THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

23 10 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 5 – The Toronto Deception By a Former Toronto Vineyard Pastor

Discernment Ministries International

THE TORONTO DECEPTION by a Former Vineyard Pastor

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been the dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrine of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar bough (East Toronto) just about self destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects criticism etc. After three years of “soaking” praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto Blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed!

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly, before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started.) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation. During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophesy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were ‘More Lord MORE’, the shouting of ‘Fire’ the jerky shaking of the body with the ‘ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH’ prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne meetings and that the stuff had broke out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough vineyard church to the east and the AirPort Church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception. They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal/charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my Family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long s they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzzword for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him.

I became disconnected by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going. If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us. This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me a I was rolling around one night ’drunk in the Spirit’ as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery the Rhyme ’Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow.’ came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that as unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, ’no its not the Bible, it’s an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive. If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal aids, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another’s throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them! In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing, I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said ‘guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what’s the deal?” I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and god was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism I was told not push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.’

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel’s army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth ? And if he dies not return when he does no flesh would be saved but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry fro the dominionism, that is being taught all through the vineyard/prophetic/spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the ‘river!’

To those in te river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lords anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!) white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy

Personally having been redeemed form charismatic extremism I applaud brother Growdy for his honesty and brokenness to share his testimony. My wife and I were present when Mrs. Arnott gave her infamous “golden sword” prophecy and saw firsthand the effect it had on the thousands present at that service. I pray our gracious Lord continues to restore Paul’s soul and that he has found safe haven in a biblically sound congregation. His testimony simply affirms what DMI has been saying for over the years. Literally hundreds of thousands of professing Christians have bought into a belief system which is not only biblically unsound but also spiritually damaging.

Sadly to date charismatic extremism shows little decrease in momentum and in some of its man facets in growing rapidly. Due to the growth of such gross doctrinal error DMI needs your support more than ever and we ask that you would pleas pray for our portion of Christ’s ministry and to also put “legs” to your prayers by financially supporting our work to His glory.

Rev. Robert S. Liichow

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Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion

23 09 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters- November 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 1 – Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow and Gary Hand

Discernment Ministries International

Carlton Pearson’s “Gospel” of Inclusion

By Robert S. Liichow

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We were in the car driving to Church a couple of Sunday mornings ago and I turned to our local Public Broadcasting station hoping to hear some classical music. Instead of hearing Chopin, I heard a familiar voice, one I had not heard in many years, that of Pastor Carlton Pearson.

I have personally met and spoken with Carlton years ago when he spoke at Jubilee Christian Church in Detroit (back then he was a mere Word of Faith heretic). Now many years later I heard his voice again, this time applauded as a heretic of a different stripe. Sadly, like all error when left unchecked it grows worse and worse. Paul rightly states in 1 Cor. 5:6 that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, which is why truth so desperately matters. Pearson had gone from espousing the heresy of the Word of Faith cult to being the “poster child” of the false Gospel of Universalism. He has gone from being heretical in many areas of doctrine to being apostate from the One Holy and Apostolic Church.

The reason why this issue of Truth Matters is devoted to Mr. Pearson and his aberrant doctrine is because I believe that the stage is set spiritually for his deviant message to be embraced by a wide audience. Our era has been culturally prepared by Hollywood movies, television programs, radio talk shows, the music industry, liberal politicians, and even some seeker-sensitive leaders to accept Pearson’s revamped message of universal reconciliation. Pearson has a charismatic personality, he is well spoken, fairly well educated, and has a great deal of media exposure. He is currently being used as a force for the darkness of deception that cannot be ignored.

A Little Background on Pearson —

Carlton grew up in a Pentecostal family. On the radio interview, (1) he readily admitted that all his ministerial mentors had absolutely no theological training. He began his public ministry at the age of 16 and unlike his forebears he decided to attend college. Carlton attended Oral Roberts University, graduated from there, and later received an honorary doctorate from Oral. Oral considered Carlton to be his “black” son in the Gospel. At one point Carlton was a member of the Board of Regents at ORU, but was removed due to his aberrant beliefs (which is saying something when one considers the host of aberrant beliefs upheld by Roberts and his ilk). He also served on the College of Bishops of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, which has also renounced him and his doctrines.

As a WOF heretic, Pearson built up a large following, eventually leading the Higher Dimensions Family Church (HDFC), a mega-church of close to 5,000 members, in Tulsa, OK for twenty years. He was a regular guest on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the 700 Club and was even a guest at the White House during the terms of both Bush Presidents. He is also a Grammy nominated singer and he authored a variety of books and booklets as well as a two-time Stellar Award-winning and Dove Award-nominated recording artist. In short, Pearson was a very big fish in the WOF/charismatic pond. He was influential in bringing T.D. Jakes into the limelight. (2) In all fairness to Mr. Jakes, he does not endorse Pearson today. “Bishop T.D. Jakes told Charisma Magazine that Pearson’s theology is wrong, false, misleading and an incorrect interpretation of the bible. (3)

Pearson also held annual revival conferences entitled “Azusa” at the Maybee Center on the ORU campus and marketed the music CD’s through Integrity Music, which has since pulled his contract and no longer publishes his songs. All the hoi polloi of charismatic stardom attended the Azusa conferences. The speakers included Mr. Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, Bishop Earl Paulk, Marilyn Hickey and others. The Azusa annual conferences was A financial boom to Tulsa’s local economy by an estimated $10 million each year for the last 14 years. (4)

This man was literally the “golden boy” of Charismania. He had the backing of its elder statesman, Oral Roberts, he was bringing in millions of dollars per year through his congregation, recording and book sales. Pearson was an internationally sought after convention speaker, out-spoken conservative black Republican and a regular guest on TBN.

Yet, today all of this is nothing but a painful memory to Carlton and those who once adored him. Gone are the 5,000 members; he is now down to around 100-200 people in a rented hall. The bank foreclosed on the huge complex, Higher Dimensions Family Church. Gone are the recording and publishing contracts. Gone are the speaking engagements and close friendship he shared with Jakes, Hinn, Hickey, the Crouches and other charismatic glitterati. I seriously doubt that G.W. will be inviting Carlton to the next White House Prayer Breakfast.

What Happened?

Simply this Carlton Pearson stopped believing that God would send any people to hell. He denounced the doctrine of eternal damnation as a false teaching from the HDFC pulpit. News of his new doctrinal stance quickly spread and even after many of his charismatic ministry friends and associates tried to counsel Pearson and get him to recant his position he refused. His counselors, for all their doctrinal errors, knew Pearson was wrong on this point and so severely so they rightly broke fellowship with him. Instead of humbly submitting himself to the orthodox teachings of the Christian Church for two thousand years, Carlton, in a supreme act of pride said the Church has been wrong and that he will restore the “true” Gospel back to the Church!

Pearson states: “A careful study of early church history will show that the doctrine of universal restoration was the prevailing doctrine of the Primitive Christian Church.” History does not show that the doctrine of universalism was held by the Primitive Christian Church as he and others claim. It was Origen in the 3rd century who began to espouse this view as he held to a more allegorical interpretation of Scripture, but it was never held as an Orthodox Church view. (5)

Every cult leader has taken this posture. The entire Church is wrong and now God is restoring biblical truth through him or her.

One does not arrive at this position overnight and although Pearson does not go into great detail as to why he took this heterodox stance, I believe we have enough information to come to the reason why he departed from the faith.

Pearson started off as a member of a Pentecostal church, the Church of God in Christ, which is at best semi-pelegian doctrinally. They preach a form of “decision-theology” when it comes to Salvation. They are very works oriented. One works to get saved and then one must continue with various works in order to stay “saved.” From his childhood, through his time at ORU and then as a pastor he has been driven by works evangelism in the classic Charles Finney frame of mind. (6) Pearson admits as much in his radio interview. Here is a transcript of a portion of that interview:

…and it all came to a head one evening, in front of the television, when my little girl who will be nine next month, was an infant, returning from Rwanda to Uganda, and umm Peter Jennings was doing a piece on it, now Majesty was my little girl and I was watching these little kids with swollen bellies, and it looks like their skin is stretched across their little skeleton remains, their hair is kind of red from malnutrition, the babies are, they got flies in the corners of their eyes and mouths, and they reached for the mother’s breast and the mother’s breast are like pencils, there’s no milk, and I, my little fat faced baby with a plate full and a big screen television, and I said, “God I don’t know how you can call yourself a loving Son of God, and allow these people to suffer this way, and then just suck them right into hell,” which was my assumption, and then I heard a voice say within me, “So that’s what you think we’re doing?” and then I remember I didn’t say yes or no, I said, “that’s what I was taught, we’re sucking them into hell,” I said, “yes” well they need to get saved.” “and how will that happen” “someone needs to preach the gospel to them and get them saved” so if you think that that’s the only way to get saved is for someone to preach the gospel to them and we’re sucking them into hell, why don’t you put you’re little baby down and turn your big screen television, I’ll push your plate away, get on the first plane, well get them saved, um, and I remember this all broken up and in tears, I was very upset, I remember thinking, “God don’t pull that guilt on me, “I’ve given you the best forty years of my life, besides, I can’t save the whole world, I’m doing the best I can, I can’t save this whole world. And that’s when I remembered, I believe it was God saying precisely, “You can’t save this whole world, that’s what we did. Do you think we’re sucking them into hell? Can’t you see, they’re already there?” That’s hell. You keep creating and inventing that for yourselves, I’m taking them into my presence. (7)

Due to the impact of Finney’s Pelagianism, Carlton and multitudes of others within the Church believe they must do something in order to bring about the salvation of the lost. Pearson said further on in this interview that every time he sat down next to someone on a plane he felt compelled to open his Bible in front of them and challenge them regarding their faith (or lack thereof) in Christ. His goal, like that of Campus Crusade For Christ, was to get as many people as possible to repeat the “sinners prayer” with him. He felt guilt when he did not witness in this manner and he also felt guilt when he did witness and people did not respond to his invitation. Keep in mind according to Finney it is the job of the evangelist to compel the lost into the kingdom of Heaven using any means necessary. (8)

Let me state quite clearly, that I believe in the necessity of witnessing our faith to others. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). I have no problem with brothers and sisters passing out tracts, knocking on doors, and inviting people to their local church. However, we must keep first and foremost in our mind that salvation is of the Lord (read Psl. 37:39). God uses the foolishness of preaching to draw people to faith in Jesus (read 1 Cor. 1:21). The Bible clearly states that one man plants and another waters, but it is GOD who gives the increase (read 1 Cor. 3:7).

All Roads Lead to Heaven —

Pearson’s problem was that in spite of all his working to “get” people saved, multitudes were not saved. Instead of simply bowing his head and humbly submitting to a loving sovereign God, who although not obligated to saving anyone, is saving multitudes daily through the Gospel…he gets mad and accuses God of being unloving and unjust and allowing multitudes to suffer and in the end sending them to eternal damnation. In fact Pearson is on record making the following statement about God’s righteous judgment: “a God who eternally condemns non-Christians would be worse than Hitler. ‘Hitler killed six million [people], mostly Jews. He is the most despised man in the twentieth century. Is God worse than Hitler, who’s going to burn eternally, endlessly, billions of people?” (9)

Due to his lack of a biblical worldview (see Matt. 7: 26) when confronted by the sad realities of a fallen world Carlton makes the classic mistake and chooses one of God’s attributes, love specifically, over the other. He chooses to see God now only as a God of love and total reconciliation. Pearson states in an interview “I believe that most people on planet earth will go to heaven, because of Calvary, because of the unconditional love of God, and the redemptive work of the cross, which is already accomplished.” (10) In an interview he states:

“Jesus was not a Christian, He was a Jew. God, however, is Spirit and cannot be confined exclusively to any particular religion including Christianity. He’s not Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist; yet He is all of that if we want or need Him to be, while at the same time, none of it conclusively, because He can’t be and, in fact, is not limited to a person’s or culture’s perception of Him. He loves everybody, He understands everybody, and He has a covenant with everybody—again, whether they know it or not. (11)

He does this at the expense of God’s other attributes such as holiness (see Rev. 15:4); sovereignty (see Isa. 46:10); the wrath of God (see Deut. 32:39-41); the decrees of God (see Isa. 40:13,14; Eph 1:4; etc.). The point is simply this—always remember that our God is perfectly balanced in all His attributes. He is equally; loving, just, merciful, compassionate, righteous, holy, and vengeful of sin at the same time with no aspect of His Person being more pronounced than any other.

Paraphrasing Carlton’s words he states that he heard a voice which told him that we, the Church, were putting people into hell and that God on the other hand was bringing them into His presence. This voice told Carlton that these poor suffering souls were in hell now, while on earth.

It was on this basis of this experience that Carlton began to create a new version of an old heresy he calls “The Gospel of Inclusion.”

The Gospel of Inclusion

Pearson now believes that since God so loved the world and Jesus died for all the sins of the world, then the entire world is already saved. The following comments come from a brother who has written an excellent article on Mr. Pearson. This information is used with Gary Hand’s kind permission:

A. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection paid the price for all of humanity to have eternal life in heaven, without any requirement to repent of sins and receive salvation.

B. Belief in Jesus Christ is not necessary for a person to go to heaven. Salvation is unconditional, granted by the grace of God to every human being.

C. It is presumed that all of humanity will have its destiny in heaven, whether they realize it or not.

D. All of humanity will go to heaven regardless of their religious affiliation, including those who believe in false religions or adopt any other form of religious persuasion, or who have no religious persuasion.

E. Only those who have “tasted of the fruits” of real intimacy with Christ and have “intentionally and consciously rejected” the grace of God will spend eternity separated from God.

F. There are persons in some type of hell, but the emphasis is “to get away from the picture of an angry, intolerant God. I don’t see God that bitter.”

The Nature of God

Carlton Pearson’s difficulty begins with a flawed concept of God in relation to man. In presenting aberrant doctrines, the attempt is always made to define the nature and character of God as less than who He is, and to raise the level of the nature and character of man to a position which he is not entitled. A wrong view of God leads to a wrong view of Jesus Christ, a wrong view of the Holy Spirit and eventually to a wrong view of the elements of salvation.

Through his claim that the God, traditionally believed by orthodox Christians, is a bitter God, Carlton Pearson sets up a “straw man” argument or a false premise, against which he argues and makes his claims. He does the same by defining the reason for God’s anger being bitterness on His part, which is a human characteristic but not one of god. He wishes to disassociate himself from those who he claims believe in this “bitter God” that he created, for sake of argument, “to get away from the picture of an angry, intolerant God. I don’t see God that bitter,” Choosing his words poorly, he intimates that he actually does believe in a “bitter” God, because to state that God is not “that bitter” is to assume that He is bitter to a lesser degree. Orthodox belief would deny that God is bitter and would state that a bitter God has never been a tenant of true Christian doctrine. In setting up his false argument, he makes a claim against orthodox belief that is not true, and at the same time places himself in a position where he affirms, by his own words, that he accepts a belief in a bitter god who is just not “that bitter.”

He seems to believe that God’s intolerance of sin and consequent anger expressed against it, an taught in the bible and found in orthodox belief, is equated with bitterness. By his acceptance of a bitter God himself, he assigns to God a deviant human characteristic which is the result of a fallen nature, and at the same time denigrates the character and integrity of God by assuming that He acts on the same level as human beings.

Carlton Pearson, by an ever-so-subtle method, begins to teach about a different God than is found in the Bible. He teaches about a God who is less than is His Holy nature, and by just a slight degree, is closer to the nature of humanity than the Bible reveals. So the character and nature of God is lessened by that small step which will lead to a greater lessening of the character and nature of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and a consequent vast change in the nature of salvation.

Jesus Christ

The question that is presented in Carlton Pearson’s doctrine, which has been discussed and answered many times, is, “For whom did Christ die?” Carlton Pearson would answer that He died for every person in the world that ever lived and will ever live. At the same time he would claim that the death of Christ was also efficacious (effective) for every person in the world that ever lived and will ever live. By that claim, he then states that all men are saved and going to heaven as a result of the death and resurrection of Christ, regardless of their religious view, even if they do not know or believe in Jesus Christ.

However, in his theology, the majority of human beings, who are saved and going to heaven, are second class persons in the heavenly scheme of things, because those who are a “Born Again Believer” and are the “sanctified” individuals through a specific belief in Jesus Christ, are also “set apart to and for special service, ranking and relationship both with and to The Lord Jesus Christ…,” which he claims is taught in 1 Corinthians 1:2. (This is strikingly similar to the Trip To Heaven dream that Jesse Duplantis claimed to have, in which there are two catagories of Christians, where the weaker ones must smell the leaves of the Tree of Life in order to get strength.) So, his theology becomes apparent: salvation is given to every human being, unconditionally through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because, a personal relationship or faith in Jesus Christ is not necessary to obtain salvation. However, sanctification, or the setting apart to a higher ranking, is accomplished by a specific belief and relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the absolute reverse of orthodox belief. Since Carlton Pearson claims to have this belief and relationship with Jesus Christ, he presumes to be set apart, ranked higher and anointed to a higher level than the normal, every day person who is simply going to heaven on a scholarship.

Salvation

The difficulty in Carlton Pearson’s theology is that it turns salvation on its head. He claims that salvation is granted to every human being, unconditionally. This salvation is granted at birth, because the ultimate destination of every human being is presumed to be heaven. Even those who believe in another religion or another god are saved; they just don’t know it.

The death of Christ made it possible for God to accept sinful man, and that he has, in fact, done so. Consequently, whatever separation there is between man and the benefits of God’s grace is subjective in nature and exists only in man’s mind and unregenerate spirit. The message man needs to hear then, is not that he simply has a suggested opportunity for salvation, but that through Christ he has, in fact, already been redeemed to God and that he may enjoy the blessing that are already his through Christ.

Carlton Pearson, Jesus: The Savior of the World

Even though the Bible states that man is estranged from God and requires redemption through belief in Jesus Christ, John 3:18, Carlton Pearson claims that this estrangement is only in the mind of man and that all man needs to do is realize that he is already saved, rather than needing to be saved. As a result of this view, Carlton Pearson states that Romans 5:12-21 supports his belief, claiming that the apostle Paul taught the gospel of Universal Reconciliation. He then claims that faith in Jesus Christ does not accomplish salvation, but brings about sanctification or the setting apart of a person from the rest of the crowd who are going to heaven. So, the object of faith is still Jesus Christ, but the purpose is not to secure salvation but to obtain sanctification. He teaches that belief in Jesus Christ, or being “Born Again,” gives a person special status and an exalted position over other persons. This is a major difference between his belief and orthodox belief. It is at the point of salvation that Carlton Person departs from the faith and proceeds to define, on his own terms, the means by which salvation can be obtained. He says that salvation is granted by God through means of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to all human beings, even through they may not know or even care about the events. Salvation, in his theological system, is unknown to the majority of human beings, but they are saved just the same. He claims that those human beings who do learn about Jesus Christ and are consequently “Born Again,” receive sanctification and not salvation, because they have already been saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The salvation claimed by Carlton Pearson is simply a given entity. It is possessed by every human being without their knowledge. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. Salvation is not possessed by default, but is obtained in a specific manner, by a process which may be slow or quick, but it is a process of obtaining knowledge about Jesus Christ. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15. Apostle Paul “But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ –that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:8-10. The apostle Paul teaches a different message regarding salvation than does Carlton Pearson. Paul did not preach a gospel of universal reconciliation applied to all, but a specific gospel to be universally preached to all. The difference is quite profound. The gospel of Universal Reconciliation is not the gospel taught by the apostle Paul. Salvation, according to the apostle Paul, is not automatically granted and is not possessed by people from birth.  Salvation must be found and it is obtained through faith in Jesus Christ. It is at the point of faith that it is granted, not by default or by inheritance. Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13

The apostle Paul was teaching a radically different gospel than that claimed by Carlson Pearson. The apostle Paul was teaching that those Christians, who were Gentiles, had formerly been separate from Christ, without hope and without God while in the world. They did not have salvation until they were brought near through the blood of Christ. The same view is taught by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:18. The gospel of Universal Reconciliation is not taught by the apostle Paul and the claim that he does teach such a doctrine is false.

What Carlton Pearson teaches is a difference means of salvation, provided in a different manner, than is found in traditional orthodox belief or in the Bible. The grace of God in salvation is redefined to be the granting of it to all human beings. Faith is redefined as applying to sanctification and not to salvation. Faith is not necessary to obtain salvation in his theological system because it is automatically provided by God to every human being. Everything changes in the gospel of Carlton Pearson. God is less than He is, grace is devalued, faith is not directed to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and as such, the Jesus Christ of his theology is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, if Christ died for every person in the world that ever lived or that will ever live, then His death and resurrection must have been efficacious for all of those individuals. In other words, they were all saved at the point of His death and resurrection, when the penalty for their sins was paid. Since this must be the case, if Christ died for every person in the world, then what accounts for his claim that some who were saved when Christ died and rose from the dead for them, lose that salvation at a future date? He presumes that those who have “tasted of the fruits” of a real relationship and intimacy with Jesus Christ and have “Intentionally and consciously rejected” that relationship and grace, will spend eternity separated from God. The reality is, that in Carlton Pearson’s doctrine, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not sufficient to secure salvation for every person in the world, and in fact, He died and rose again for people who have salvation for a time in their life, but reject it and will not be saved when all is said and done. So, by definition, they were not granted a universal salvation by God and were not saved, since they are separated from God at their death. Salvation is no salvation if it does not actually save. Carlton Pearson redefines and devalues salvation to mean simply going to heaven. In that context, it is easy to lose salvation since it is just the act of going to heaven. However, in orthodox belief, going to heaven is a fringe benefit of the act of salvation, which is a reconciliation of man to God. Salvation is much more than just going to heaven, and, as such salvation is truly what the term signifies; being kept secure by God Himself. It is a difficult concept to claim that Jesus Christ died for those who deliberately reject His placement of salvation on their lives. However, this goes very well with most charismatic belief, because it is a common thread in those doctrinal systems that salvation can be lost at any point. Just how a person is supposed to know at what specific point that occurs, is not specified.

In his theological system, human beings have no say or control over being ranted a universal salvation by God. It is given without their knowledge or consent. However, human beings obtain control over the possession of their salvation if they are told the gospel message (as Carlton Pearson define it) and reject it after having “tasted of the fruits” of a relationship with Jesus Christ, whatever that is defined to be. Fro the majority of people in Carlton Pearson’s theological system, God is sovereign in their salvation, in that they are going to heaven whether they know it or not, even if they might reject that destination if they were told. For the others, who have been told the gospel and “tasted of the fruits” of a relationship with Jesus Christ and rejected that message, they are able to break God’s sovereignty over their eternal destination and take from themselves the ability to determine their own destiny. The question must be asked, “Is God sovereign or is man sovereign? In Carlton Pearson’s theology, man is master and God becomes the victim. At one point, God grants salvation, but at another point that salvation has no effect and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is pointless, and is powerless to maintain the salvation given.

Even in his own theological system, it would be better if Carlton Pearson would stop preaching his gospel, because the person who does not hear his gospel will not have the opportunity to reject the message and be separated from God as the result. If they do not hear the gospel and reject it, they will go to heaven. Preaching Carlton Pearson’s gospel to a person is, in reality, doing that persona disfavor by presenting to them the option of choosing to be separated from God. Truly, in his theological system, ignorance is bliss, because to be without knowledge of Jesus Christ will assure a person of a place in heaven. Again, what Carlton Pearson claims is the opposite of orthodox belief and what the Bible actually says. Salvation, according to the Bible, is obtained by hearing the gospel and placing faith in Jesus Christ, while damnation is not to hear the gospel or reject the gospel.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, God grants salvation to every human being on an unconditional basis. The granting of sanctification is conditional, based on the choice of the individual. So, the major aspect, which is salvation is unconditional, which the minor aspect, sanctification, is conditional. In higher education, one spends the majority of time on their major, or the chief area of their study, and the minority of their time on their minor, or the secondary area of their study. In this theology, the major becomes the minor; the minor becomes the major and the individual majors on the minor element, which is sanctification. God and Jesus Christ have gone to the limit in order to provide salvation for humanity, but in this system it is simply granted, even to those who are ignorant of its provisions. But at the minor point of the issue, that of sanctification, the choice is given to continue in the belief or choose separation from God. The great work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection is relegated to an insignificant part of the life of a person, while the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing about sanctification is elevated to the major portion of a person’s life to such a degree that a person’s decision on that more minor element determines whether a person will be separated from God or will go to heaven. This is a theological system turned upside down in which a person is forced to major on the minors and minor on the majors.

The glaring fault in Carlton Pearson’s teaching is that he creates two classes of people who are going to heaven. There are the ordinary people, who have never heard of Jesus Christ or have another religious belief, and there are the “sanctified” persons who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are set apart to a higher level. The difficulty is apparent, in that the first class of people is going to heaven in the same spiritual condition in which they live on this earth. Nothing has changed, because they are ignorant of Jesus Christ, believe in other false religious systems or have no religious belief at al. The Holy Spirit has never worked in their lives and they have never been spiritually changed in order to conform to the image of Jesus Christ.

Carlton Pearson has a gross misconception regarding the elements of salvation. Salvation is not about just going to heaven. If a person could obtain salvation without sanctification, then heaven would be filled with the same sinful, reprobate people in their same sinful reprobate condition, that inhabit this world, which is what his new theology allows.

In Carlton Pearson’s theology, not only is the method by which salvation is obtained redefined, the nature and composition of salvation itself is redefined and the elements of that salvation are detached from each other. Carlton Pearson assumes that salvation is going to heaven, but there is much more to it than just going to a pleasant place when one dies. Even if there was no such place such as heaven, salvation would still be a necessity because the issue of salvation is about the reconciliation of human beings to God, from whom they are separated.  Reconciliation is not accomplished by going to heaven, but by means of the elements of salvation in which God demands accountability by man to the provision made by Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection, through faith, repentance, regeneration, justification, adoption and sanctification, those elements being accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. These elements constitute the totality of salvation and cannot be separated. It is not possible to obtain salvation without salvation without accomplishing sanctification, just as it is not possible to enter heaven without all of the elements being accomplished in the life of the believer.

Salvation in the Scriptures, is granted as a result of faith; that faith being exercised toward the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. Faith has always been the means by which salvation was granted, even in the Old Testament, as Hebrews chapter 11 shows. To accept Carlton Pearson’s view of salvation is to conclude that one possesses salvation by virtue of simply being human. Presumably if one is born, one has salvation. That is the disaster in his theology. To presume that one has salvation when one does not, is to be lost and damned to an eternity in hell, without the presence of God. Heresy leads to damnation because to preach a wrong gospel about salvation is to preach a damning message to those who would believe it.

According to Carlton Pearson, the orthodox Christian church has gotten the salvation message all wrong for 1900 years and he has finally been the one to discover the truth and set everyone and everything straight. In a sense, he is maintaining the old apostasy theory that claims the early church believed one thing, but at some point that belief was changed and the church became apostate. He has now come along to end that system of apostasy and restore the truth of the real gospel as he has discovered it. The Apostle Paul, whose teachings were the first to be referred to as heresies in Acts 24:24, was the first to teach the message of Universal Reconciliation, as he tried to convince Jews and Jewish Christians that the Gospel was inclusive of all of Humankind and not confined to a so-called ‘faithful few.” Subtly trying to compare is situation with the apostle Paul, he intimates that the claims of heresy brought against his teachings are similar to those in Acts. However, he misrepresents the charges of heresy brought against Paul, because they were not charges from within the Christian community, but from the old Judaistic religious system that was abolished on the death of Jesus Christ.

“A careful study of early church history will show that the doctrine of universal reconciliation was the prevailing doctrine of the Primitive Christian Church.” It is clear from the Scripture that this was not the prevailing doctrine of the early church. To claim otherwise is simply a perversion of the Scriptural record and the historical record as well.   Carlton Pearson’s approach is mirrored by the claims of Joseph Smith in Mormonism, who is considered to be “The prophet of the restoration, “John Thomas of the Christadelphians and Charles Taze Russell of the Jahovah’s Witnesses, who all claim that the Christian Church has been wrong all along, but they and only they, by their own brilliance or by a revelation uniquely given to them, have discovered the truth. The absurdity of Carlton Pearson’s claim, according to its own system of theology, is, it does not matter what a person believes; they are going to heaven anyway. So, even if the orthodox church got the message wrong, everyone is still going to heaven. In point of fact, it is not even necessary for there to be preachers to give a message, a church to attend or a religious belief to hold, since all men are going to heaven regardless of what they may or may not believe. If Carlton Pearson were true to his theology, he would have to admit that his job as a pastor or evangelist is completely unnecessary.

Carlton Pearson wishes to preach about a kinder, gentler God than is actually revealed in the Scripture. He wishes to redefine God in a manner that suit’s the message that he wishes to preach, rather than reveal the true character and nature of God. He wishes to do the same with Jesus Christ, so he states, “It is my objective to simply represent Jesus in a softer and more loving way, being less excluding and more “inclusive” in His love, tolerance, acceptance, and glorious promise to all.”

Redefining God in the image of Carlton Pearson is his goal, in order to present a gospel that people want to hear. It is a gospel in which they can go to heaven just like they are. It is a gospel in which people are presumed to be worthy of heaven in the condition that they find themselves. It is a gospel in which they can excel to higher levels through the message of sanctification by faith, never dealing with the sin and depravity in their soul.

Carlton Pearson is adopting a gospel that is strangely reminiscent of Robert Schuller and his positive thinking theology. Robert Schuller took a survey and asked people what message they wanted to hear. They told him what it was, and he now preaches the comforting homilies of a positive self-image and high self-esteem. Salvation, according to Robert Schuller, is the adoption of a gospel of self-love, a positive self-image and high self-esteem that is sufficient to approach God. This is a gospel of arrogance, presuming that a person has the right to stand before God based on their own definition of adequacy. Claiming that the apostle Paul taught a negative message, Robert Schuller states that he does not preach the message of the apostle Paul. He takes upon himself the authority to determine what is important to preach from the Bible, and as such, he places himself in a greater position of authority than God, who is the author of all Scripture.

Carlton Pearson has adopted Robert Schuller’s popular approach, wishing to eliminate from his theology what he considers to be a negative message. The gospel message that repentance of sins and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior will deliver a person form the judgment of God, is hard to understand. However, when salvation is given to every human being at birth, there is not much of any other message that can be preached.

Placing himself in the position of authority over the message of the gospel established by God, he assumes that he has the power to redefine God, Jesus Christ, and salvation in the manner that best suits his true ultimate goal of extending the boundaries of his ministry. His new “doctrine” came about, not as a result of a desire to present doctrinal purity, but in order to extend the appeal of his ministry to a vast group of people who do not wish to hear or know about a gospel in which sin must be realized and confessed in their lives. As such, he teaches a gospel that says, “I’m ok. You’re ok. We’re all ok.” To that end, Carlton Pearson has created his own gospel, just as Robert Schuller has created his. He is taking a calculated risk, willing to lose some followers now in order to appeal to a greater number as time goes on.

Carlton Pearson wishes to see himself as the leader of a new theological approach, redefining God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation and sanctification. He looks to himself as the head of the movement and to others in order to provide a foundation for his beliefs, pointing toward those who call themselves “Universal Reconciliationists,”  with similar views. He uses the trendy terminology, that is so overused in charismatic circles today, that is supposed to assign a high level of importance and intellectual credence to what is being stated, indicating that a “paradigm shift” in thinking identifies his theological system, hoping to convince other people that he is doing great and mighty things.

Paradigm shifts, no matter how they are defined by their proponents, must adhere to the teachings in the Scripture, otherwise, like Carlton Person’s “new” theology, they are simply the old heresies wrapped in another package.

Today, Mr. Pearson speaks in a rented hall, his mega-church property having gone into foreclosure. Seated before him are no long thousands of sign-seeking WOF cultists. Instead his “congregation” includes people dressed in Muslim clothing, openly homosexual people, some Unitarian cult members and just a handful of people from HDFC who sadly have been thus far deceived into believing the apostate Pearson’s seemingly kinder false gospel.

I cannot say whether or not Pearson was ever a genuine Christian, God only knows. I can say that one cannot deny the unique redemption that is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to be a member of Christ’s Body. On the following page I have cited just a few of the biblical texts that Mr. Pearson seems to have either forgotten or has attempted to redefine. Like we used to say “there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.”

A Few Biblical Verses to Share With Those Who Believe In Universal Atonement

Psalm 21:9 Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.

Matthew 3:21 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 23:23   Ye serpents ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Matthew 25:33,41   And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on is right hand, but the goats on the left…Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Romans 12:2 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

1 Cor. 6:9-10  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

2 These 2:10-13 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that the should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:  ♦

Copyright ©  2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. The interview is available on the internet on various web sites. The program is called “This American Life” hosted by Ira Glass. To hear it one can go to http://www.audible.com or other sites.

2. Mr. Jakes, as DMI and other ministries have been warning the Church, is an anti-Trinitarian and teaches a unique syncretism of WOF error, prosperity nonsense and feel-good psycho-babble. Mr. Jakes leads The Potters House in Dallas, TX. A congregation with over 15,000 members.

3. Obtained from http://www.evangelizeamerica.org/general/carlton%20pearson.htm.

4. Charisma magazine, Feb. 2000, People & Events section.

5. Obtained from an article on Pearson found at http://www.letusreason.org/Curren35.htm on 12-31-05

6. Charles Finney was a heretic who, unfortunately, has had a great impact on today’s so-called evangelical movement. Truth Matters has exposed him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing and there are many web sites devoted to demonstrating that Finney was not a genuine Christian.

7. Transcribed from the audio version of This American Life by Dominique Liichow who labored long over her Christmas vacation to help with this edition of the newsletter.

8. We have Finney to thank for the concept of the anxious bench” and “altar calls.” According to Finney, man has totally free will to receive or reject Christ it is up to the skill of the evangelist to make the message as appealing or powerful as possible. I have seen coffins on the platform with people laying in them, a bugle is blown and only 1 man rises, and then the evangelist shouts “I’ll count to 10 and if you want to rise when Jesus returns like this man run to the alta…” Other evangelists will literally turn up the heat in the building as they preach about hell and the need for Christ. Such tactics leave no place for the true work of the Holy Spirit.

9. From This American Life radio interview and it can also be found at http://www.letusreason.org/Curren35.htm as of 12-30-05

10. http://www.evangelizeamerica.org/general/carlton%20pearson.htm obtained on 12-30-05.

11. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/127/story_12772_1.htm#cont  obtained on 12-30-05.





Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith?

17 09 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 9 – Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith? – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Do Miracles, Signs & Wonders Create Faith? 

By Robert S. Liichow

 

Bonnke claims that “miracles are proof of the presence of the power of God (1) Bonnke emphasized the date of June 1scanMIRACLEBOOK00011 separately, at which time Christ would in a special way point Himself. In Bonnke’s Language this announcement meant that Christ would evidence Himself by unusually numerous miracles during the service. (2) The supernatural will occur differently; maybe out in public is valid. I believe it can be kind of God’s calling card. (3)

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In the past as a charismatic extremist if I heard this statement once I heard it a hundred times, “miracles are God’s calling card.” We heard this uttered in person at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship by John Arnott, former senior a few years ago.

 

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What is meant by this statement and other similar statements is that the Lord is supposed to be working miracles through His anointed vessels as a means to bring people to a saving faith in Christ Jesus. Lester Sumrall, now deceased made the following statement in his book Miracles Don’t Just Happen:

In the Acts of the Apostles we read of ‘all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.’ His doing preceded His teaching.

Every sermon that Christ preached was prefaced by a model miracle. We are going to follow His example. (4)

To begin with Lester makes the assumption that the “doing” of Jesus was always a miraculous event which was then followed up with His proclaiming of the Gospel, ergo we should expect to work miracles first and then preach the Word. Sumrall is reading into this text more than there is, he is guilty of eisegesis versus exegesis.

There are a great many sermons where Jesus did not perform miracles “first” and then proceed to teach the people. Frankly, just about anytime Jesus spoke it was a sermon of one type or another. Here are a few examples:

Matthew 7:28-29 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.

Here Jesus preached first then we read of Him healing several people, the leper (8:2), the centurion’s servant (8:7), Peter’s mother-in-law (8:15). In all of these cases we find examples of healing and not miracles. In fact, these texts in places state “and I will come and heal him” (8:7). We read in Mark 1:39 “And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” Jesus again is shown preaching the Gospel then performing signs and wonders.

Mr. Sumrall was simply wrong in his teachings about miracles. Unfortunately his views have been part-n-parcel of early Pentecostalism and today’s Charismatic movement. Almost every major sign-gift SINister has written books or produced tapes or videos on how to become a miracle worker or how to receive a miracle. * Here are just a few examples:

Oral RobertsExpect A Miracle / and Still Expecting Miracles (2 tapes)

Kenneth CopelandWalking in the Realm of the Miraculous

Benny HinnMiracles DVD

Steve HillOperating in the Miraculous (God wants to use you in his miraculous!)

Marilyn HickeyYour Miracle Source

Charles & Francis HunterImpossible Miracles

Kenneth E. HaginMiracles of Healing (tape series)

Kathryn KuhlmanI Believe in Miracles

Robert TiltonFaith Aid Miracle Healing Kit

Prophet T.B. JoshuaDivine Miracles (DVD)

Don Stewart — Miracle Seeds for Success and Prosperity

John Wimber Power Evangelism, Signs & Wonders Today

Signs and Wonders and Church Growth

Pat RobertsonMiracles Can Be Yours Today

Paul F. Crouch and R.W. SchambachMiracles II “Greater Miracles

R.W. Schambach Miracles: Eyewitness to the Miraculous

The Price of God’s Miracle-Working Power

T.L. OsbornReceive Miracle Healing

How to Receive Miracle Healing

Modern Miracles in Mombasa

Ruth HeflinMiracles that I have Seen

WHEN THE MIRACULOUS BECOMES COMMONPLACE IT CEASES TO BE “MIRACULOUS”

These are just a few of the better known authors of books about how to obtain a miracle, how to develop spiritually to work miracles, etc. All of the books that have been cited are available on the Internet by simple googling the name of the author. Most of these books and many others are available in almost all “Christian” bookstores too.

It is one thing to write about miracles, but it is quite another to proclaim yourself a miracle-worker as many SINisters do today. Mr. David Hogan is possibly a bigger prevaricator than Benny Hinn. The following is a direct statement from his website:

The ministry has become known for some amazing miracles through the Holy Spirit. They report to have witnessed over 200 people being raised from the dead! When David is not in Mexico he ministers under a strong anointing for preaching and healing. (5)

On his website you can watch a series of videos entitled “Faith to Raise the Dead.” The Statement made before the links to these videos says “These videos may be some of the most viewed and listened to around the earth in our time.” This is simply not true, in fact, I’ll wager that the majority of Christians have never even heard of Mr. Hogan. Hogan has never brought one person forward to be examined or interviewed who he is supposed to have raised form the dead. One would think that TBN or the 700 Club would love to have an “exclusive” interview with one such person. Surely out of over 200 people Hogan could produce one or two resurrected folks….who no doubt could write books on what they experienced while dead.

Popoff_Peter_2

Peter Popoff is another proven fraud and liar. His website’s front page says “Peter Popoff Miracle Ministry.” (6) His site is filled with unsubstantiated testimonies of alleged miracles due to Mr. Popoff’s direct connection with God. Unfortunately his video clips of his healing services are not working on his site, so you’ll just have to take his word about what God is doing through him. You can order free “miracle spring water,” which I encourage all our readers to do and get on his mailing list as well so you can receive monthly point-of-contact fetish items each month!

The best known miracle-man today is naturally Mr. Benny Hinn. Here is a copy of a ticket I received from him:

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Hinn knows in advance that “God’ will be working miracles through him; he also is an astute observer of the desperate plight of multitudes of people who are willing to drive hundreds of miles, wait in long lines for hours, and donate money they can’t afford to give; yet do so in the hope that God is indeed working miracles through Hinn and that they will be the recipient of God’s miraculous power.

It is the height of presumption and hubris to declare God will be working miracles tonight or that He will be healing the sick during this revival. Yet even with his abysmal track record of healing failures, i.e. people who his ministry declared “healed” who died either a few weeks, or months later multitudes still flock to this man’s so-called “Miracle Crusades” all over the world. (7) After close to twenty years of miracle crusades one would imagine that the offices of the Benny Hinn Ministries (BHM) would be overflowing with medical records, legal affidavits, and notarized statements from thousands of people who have either received divine healing or a genuine creative miracle. Yet BHM cannot produce any such proof of the bold claims Hinn makes.

My wife and I participated in several of Mr. Hinn’s crusades. At first we went as part of the mob, later we became part of the mass choirs (that got us closer to the “anointing”).

hinnstage

The flow of the services go something like this: the song leader would lead the crowd in a few songs, then we’d sing “How Great Thou Art” and it was always during the singing of this song that Mr. Hinn, usually in a bright white suit, would appear on the platform with a spotlight on him. Folks, it was no accident that we were singing about how great God was, but Benny knew psychologically that the mob was there because they believed he, Hinn himself, was “great” too, certainly greater and closer to the Lord than they were.

Then Hinn would cite a few healing texts, reminding people that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He would proclaim how he felt a strong anointing or how he had been told by God in prayer that many miracles and healings would take place during that specific crusade. All that the people had to do was to have faith in God. Hinn never preached the Gospel in any of the crusades we attended; he simply cited texts on healing and especially on the blessings of giving.

How better to show ones faith than to put it into action by making as generous a donation as possible? The people were encouraged to “sow” a financial seed into BHM thus proving to God and themselves that they really believed. Hinn would pray God’s blessings on those who gave. Ushers mystically appeared with buckets which looked like the large family sized KFC buckets. Then with the precision of a Rolex ® watch and the speed of a Japanese bullet train thousands of sheep were sheared of their money.

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Once the money was collected then the real show began. Hinn would lead the choir in some simple songs, often having us sing the refrains over and over. Then he would suddenly stop and point out into the crowds (nonspecifically) and begin to declare that God was healing someone with cancer in the balcony or He was healing backs etc…Then a chosen, vetted few, would be allowed onto the platform where Hinn would either blow on them, hit them with his suit coat or lay hands on them and like domino’s they would all fall down. At times Hinn would knock down the same person several times saying “pick him up,” and laugh at them as they lay spastic at his feet.

Those lucky enough to be interviewed by Hinn always reported they were healed or received a miracle of a type which was non-verifiable. In other words, no arms grew back, the twisted bodies of the people in the “wheelchair section” remained as twisted. No visible tumors dropped off in front of the cameras. Then a few more songs would be sung while Hinn was led away by his henchmen. The MC for the evening would exhort people to not give up if they did not receive their miracle that evening, because tomorrow evening there would be another “miracle” service. They were also encouraged to purchase the “faith building” materials at all of the tables surrounding the arenas.

On Friday night the people got to see and some believed they felt the power of “God.” On Saturday morning (at least at the last crusade we sang in) an aging Rex Humbard toddled out onto the platform and gave the standard decision-based Gospel appeal to those faithful few who got up early enough to come back to the arena.

What I want to emphasize is the formula Hinn and basically all the other so-called healing evangelists and miracle workers use —perform the signs & wonders shtick, then make an appeal to the unconverted to answer the altar call and make a decision to receive Christ. Is this the biblical pattern for salvation? This is the position that needs to be rebutted biblically in order for us to come to the biblical truth.

Has God Appointed Modern Miracle Workers Today?

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It is important for you to understand clearly that DMI firmly believes that our Lord Jesus Christ does still heal His people. However, He does so according to the good pleasure of His will. There are no steps, laws, or principles that we can enact in order to cause our Lord to heal anyone.

The belief in the so-called ministry of the Healing Evangelist aka Miracle-worker came about in the mid 1800’s with the holiness movement and got firmly rooted in many Christian’s minds after 1906 after the neo-Montanist revival at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California.

The reason the Church has been plagued by people such as Maria Woodworth-Etter (the trance evangelist), Smith Wigglesworth, F.F. Bosworth, Aimee Semple McPhearson, A.A. Allen, Kathryn Kuhlman, Jack Coe, Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, William Branham, Robert Tilton, Leroy Jenkins, Peter Popoff, Benny Hinn, Jim Wittington and a host of others is because their initial presuppositions were wrong.

Once people began to believe that God had “restored” the gift of other tongues supernaturally then it logically followed that they would also believe the other supernatural gifts either were restored or in the process of being restored, including the gift of the working of miracles (1 Cor. 12:10). It did not take the fledgling neo-Montanist movement long to continue down their slippery slope by believing that since “God” had restored the sign-gifts to the Church He is also restoring the office of the Prophet and the Apostle. To them the Book of Acts became a blueprint for how the Church is supposed to be organized and that miraculous signs and wonders are to be normative in local congregations.

A new magazine came to our office entitled The Voice of the Prophetic and it is filled with nuts, fruits and flakes to be perfectly blunt about it. Here is a quote from a “restored” prophetess by the name of Patricia King:

His voice repeatedly speaks to my heart, ‘I am waiting for My church to move in My authority, to conquer the works of darkness that are manifesting unrestrained. I am waiting for My mature sons and daughters to manifest My glory and My authority. All creation is waiting; all creation is groaning. (7)

Obviously, Ms. King does not place value on the work of Christ Jesus on the cross where He defeated Satan:

Col 2:13-15: And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

I am not denying that there is legitimate spiritual warfare and conflict with Satan and his demons. Yet today’s extremists hold to a view that Satan and demons operate freely in this world unless the Church uses its divine authority to bind the devil and his imps up. I have personally heard the late Kenneth Hagin share how the Lord Jesus appeared to him but an evil spirit jumped up between them and Hagin could not hear Jesus. Hagin waited patiently for Jesus to do something (you see the cross was not enough). Then Hagin finally got angry and rebuked the demonic imp in Jesus name and it scampered away. Hagin asked Jesus why He didn’t do something about the evil spirit. Hagin’s Jesus said He couldn’t because He had given His authority to the Church and unless we do something about Satan and his works, well then, they just won’t get done! You can read about this encounter in Hagin’s book I Believe In Visions.

In the minds of the extremists today it is the mature believers within the Church who wield the true spiritual authority over the devil and demons, not Jesus Christ. Patricia King also misspeaks when her voice tells her that dark works are “manifesting unrestrained.” Yet again the Bible plainly teaches in Second Thessalonians:

2 Thess. 2:2-6: not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.

The evil one is currently under divine restraint and always will be. He is not manifesting anything in an unrestrained mode of operation at all. Satan is a created being who, although rebellious, is still completely subject to the sovereignty of God. He and his minions can do only what the Lord allows them to do. This is clearly seen in Job 1:10-12 or when the demons asked Jesus to allow them to enter into the swine (read Matt. 8:31-32).

Yet King rattles on in her article buttressing Hagin’s heterodox teaching by saying:

He is asking us to take up the authority He won back for us on the cross and move in His supernatural power to confront the powers of darkness, turning the attention of the people back to the One True God. (8)

NEWSFLASH !

Ms. King the world has never been focused on the One True God since the fall of Adam. The example she cites is that of Moses standing up against the Pharaoh’s magicians. The signs and wonders God wrought through Moses did not make the Egyptians believe, in fact, God hardened the heart of the Pharaoh as opposed to giving him faith. Through His work on the cross Jesus did not win back for us the “lost” power to move in the miraculous. He did give us a method to confront the powers of darkness, but that power comes in a completely different form then that which was given to Moses. The entire philosophy of those practicing what is called “strategic level spiritual warfare” is based upon the belief that we, the Church, must enforce Satan’s defeat and take back cities and even nations he has “owned.” This is why people like Dr. C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Schultz and others go to places like Ephesus and march around casting down the “spirit” of Diana which they had discerned had ruled over that area for centuries! (9)

Once a neighborhood or city has had the principalities and powers cast down and bound up by the mature saints…then there is what they call an “open heaven” where their prayers are unhindered and revival can come. Once these warriors have done their work people’s ears are now free from demonic blockage and they can and will receive Christ as Savior. In their view people cannot come to faith in Christ until the demonic forces are driven out or bound up by human agents! This is a blasphemous doctrine because it places both Satan and sinful man as ultimately in control of individuals eternal state before God. It is no longer God who draws, nor is it the Spirit who calls, but men.

This magazine goes on to state in another article concerning how the glory realm is getting thinner, i.e. nearer and more accessible to us. This article is written by Cindy McGill who says:

Already, we are experiencing manifestations of gold, jewels, instant miraculous healings and deliverances. God is flooding lives as He has given the invitation to come in and take over. These things are only the beginning of unbelievable things we are about to see. (10)

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DMI was among the first Apologetic Ministry to debunk the myth of gold teeth and gold dust, in fact, we may have the only book in circulation exposing this alleged phenomena. Most importantly, note how “God” through these miraculous signs & wonders is inviting us to come in and take over! The role of the Holy Spirit is not mentioned, nor the proclamation of the Gospel. Just non-biblical signs &wonders and presto the Church is just supposed to come in and take over. Take over what? Why the world of course. The Prophetic/Apostolic movement is almost exclusively one of Christian Dominion or what is also-called Kingdom Now Theology.

Moving in the miraculous is the new wave of evangelismStacey Campbell says in her article: Prophecy is for Unbelievers:

Of all the evangelism I have ever done—from surveys, to door-to-door, to street preaching, to church dinner, to friendship evangelism—prophetic evangelism is by far the most effective form of evangelism I have ever engaged in. (11)

Stacey seems to have literally been around the block when it comes to sharing the Christian faith. Yet out of all the methods she has tried what has proved most successful? Not the foolishness of preaching (read 1 Cor. 1:21) the Law & Gospel to the lost. Even though the Apostle Paul himself told the sign-saturated Corinthians—-

1 Co. 2:2: For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

The Bible is completely silent about this so-called miraculous prophetic evangelism. Nowhere are God’s people exhorted to go out and win the lost via the use of the spiritual gifts (which we all possess in some fashion) given by the Holy Spirit. This concept is merely an outgrowth from what has become known as the “Third Wave” with Dr. C. Peter Wagner and John Wimber as its fountainhead. Wimber’s book Power Evangelism is where much of this unbiblical nonsense gained a foothold in the sign-gift movement. In his confused mind the simple preaching of the Gospel was not getting the job done. He believed and taught that people needed to see some demonstration(s) of wonder-working power before they would believe the message {according to Wimber and his followers}. In Wimber’s theology “seeing was believing,” yet is this the teaching of the Bible? Does God use miracles/miracle-workers to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?

Probably one of the strongest biblical proofs from the Old Testament that signs and wonders do not create faith is seen in the lives of the Jews following Moses in the desert. They were brought out of Egypt through a series of miracles and the Lord sustained them for forty years by providing manna and quail for them. Yet what does the Bible have to say about this generation of sign-seeking people?

Heb 3:1-19 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whom carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

After a lifetime of seeing miracles these people were unable to enter into the land God has promised to give them because of their unbelief. Signs & wonders did not cause them to believe; it did not engender faith in their hearts at all.

Another instance is that of Nebuchadnezzar. He personally saw miracles (read Dan. 3:14-25, Dan. 6:22) yet these demonstrations of God’s power did not bring him to a saving faith in the God of Israel. Later on in the book of Daniel the miraculous hand that wrote on the wall (read Dan. 5:22) to Belshazzar did not bring him to repentance. The wondrous sign was in fact his death warrant, much as was the last great sign in Egypt, the slaying of all the firstborn makes. Or, how about the time when the ark was taken captive by the Philistines and placed in the temple of their god Dagon (read 1 Sam. 5:2)? After finding their god on his face, broken before the ark of the Lord, they decided they’d better send it back to Israel (1 Sam. 6:6-15). The signs God worked among the Philistines did not bring them to cast aside their false gods and embrace the true God in spite of His judgments upon them as long as they had the ark. The uniform testimony of the Old Testament proves that signs and wonders do not cause people to believe in the Living God. What about in the New Testament?

Maybe here we will find evidence of God moving in a new dispensation, one of signs and wonders to produce saving faith in people who witness or experience them.

In John chapter six our Lord feeds thousands in a miraculous way. The multitude wanted to immediately make Him their King and some did declare He was a prophet (see John 6:14). Jesus knew what was in their hearts and left by boat, yet the crowd followed Him and He rebuked them by saying:

John 6:26-27: Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

The miracles of the loaves and fishes did not cause the people to believe He was the Savior. Some did think He was a prophet, others thought He’d make a good King, after all, He could feed them with little of their own labor,. So this great miracle did not produce saving faith. The people did want to know how they too could “work” the works (miracles) of God. Jesus’ response is very telling to our brethren who are besotted with so-called signs & wonders today:

John 6:28-29: Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Sorry folks, Jesus did not give the crowd three steps to miracle working power, nor did He provide six keys to the supernatural realm. Instead He pointed to His Father and said “this is the work of (from) God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Our Master refocused the people AWAY from the signs & wonders (food that perishes) and said that it was God who would do the work and that work was to draw whomever He would to faith in Hs Son. Jesus had a poor view of those who ran after Him seeking signs and wonders:

Matt 12:38-39: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 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:

Today’s sign seekers are an equally evil and adulterous in my opinion because they have misplaced their faith. Their faith is resting in what they can see or in some cases what type of “power” they can manifest and not in the Word of God first and foremost. In the account of the rich man who went to hell Jesus again warns that a miracle will not create saving faith, whereas God’s Word will:

Luke 16:29-31: Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Note the emphasis placed on hearing the Word of God and not seeing the powerful miracle of one being raised from the dead. The point is — if people will not receive the Word of God, then miracles will be of no help to them. So I repeat myself and state that miracles do not produce saving faith.

The extremist movement is hungry for spiritual power, yet seems to have little appetite for the simple teaching of the Bible. The Apostle Paul makes it very plain where the true power is when he writes:

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.

The accurate proclaiming of the Law & Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; not signs and wonders. The Gospel of John shows this power in operation:

John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:

Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have become fascinated concerning the signs, wonders, and miracles. Let us be cautious of many of the claims being made. The Bible warns us in several places about lying signs and wonders whose only goal is to deceive people and lead them AWAY from Jesus, not bring them to a saving faith in Him!

Matthew 24:11: And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Mark 13:22-23: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

2 Thess. 2:9-12 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The Church has been warned repeatedly to be on guard against people who come saying they have the “power” of God. Those who are not grounded on a solid doctrinal foundation may be deceived by these clever counterfeits. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians seems to indicate that people will love the lying signs and wonders which will lead them to NOT love the truth (“They word is truth” Jh 17:17).

Obviously, these miracles did not and will not bring people to faith in Jesus Christ…no miracle ever has apart from the sovereign working of God in the hearts of those He draws unto Himself.

On closing one of the most frightening warnings given by Christ in the Bible, at least to me when I was a former charismatic extremist myself is the following

Mt. 7:21-23: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. As many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in they name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Working or possessing supernatural (often confused with paranormal powers) gifts and using them in “Jesus” name is not the guarantee to enter into heaven. Jesus states quite emphatically in the Greek that He never at any time knew these people. What is the work God finds acceptable?

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The “work” is faith in God the Son and this work is really not ours per se. Faith to believe is a gift from God and it comes to us by grace alone (read Eph. 2:8). All the power the Church needs is found in the Gospel. It has the power to literally take people and translate them from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son. The Gospel makes the spiritually dead alive with life eternal and grants them an inheritance which is unfading.

Please pray for all of those who’ve been misled, often by well intentioned but ignorant leaders. Millions are seeking for God in all the wrong places chasing after the latest reported sign, wonder or revival…when all the time God’s true power, His Word sits gathering dust in their homes. Selah.

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Simpson, Sandy. Reinhard Bonnke Out of Sight Out of Mind 04-24-01.

2. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

3. Obtained from http://desertpastor.typepad.com/paradoxology/2006/signs_and_wonder.html on (08-20-06)

4. Sumrall, Lester, Miracles Don’t Just Happen, Plainfield, N.J. Logos International, 1979, p. 15

5. Obtained from http://www.fathersglory.com/insp/David_Hogan-1.htm. Underlining, italics and bold type added for emphasis.

6. Obtained from http://www.peterpopoff.org/

7. These “failures” have been well documented by the television exposes on Mr. Hinn, not to mention the research done by the Trinity Foundation and Personal Freedom Outreach.

8. King, Patricia, The Voice of the Prophetic, The Clash of Kingdoms by Patricia King, Oct. 2006, p.9 Underlining added for emphasis.

9. Ibid. p. 35 Underlining added.

10. The whole aspect of spiritual warfare as taught by Wagner, Jacobs and others is nothing but an attempt to justify their own theological views of Kingdom Now.

11. McGill, Cindy, The Voice of the Prophetic. Eye Has Not Seen, Nor Ear Heard the Veil to the Glory Realm in Getting Thinner, Oct. 2006, p. 23. Underlining added.

12. Ibid, p. 27. Underlining added.

13. John Wimber who died at age 65. John Wimber said that he picked up a “Chinese cancer spirit” while visiting China. Apparently he and his elders lacked the miracle working power and could not either cast out this cancer spirit or bind it up. Eventually he succumbed to it. This, sad as anyone’s death is, has always stuck me as rather strange, especially in light of the fact that he also penned a book entitled Power Healing!

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