Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3

22 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 11 – Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit? Part 2 of 3 – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

Part 2 of 3

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The “Ministry” of the Catchers

This phenomena has caused the need to develop a “new” ministry within the church, that of the Catcher. No matter where you go, whether it is to a revival service at Toronto, Pensacola or a Vineyard Fellowship you will encounter the ministry of the Catchers. This is an actual “ministry” within charismatic fellowships and people are trained in how to fulfill this duty (it is often done by the ushers within a local assembly).

A catcher is a man who stands behind those receiving prayer. Their job is to “catch” the people who are being slain in the spirit. The catchers job is to make sure the person being “blessed” does no harm to themselves or those around them. Charismatic congregations even have written guidelines for catchers:

Tips For Catching People:

1. Do not touch the person being prayed for, but reassure them that there is someone behind them.

2. You don’t have to take a hold of their shoulders as if you are going to help God.

3. As the person moves down, move back and then facilitate their move.

4. Men- be careful when touching women.

5. Get them to fall back, not forward.

6. Catchers – ONLY catch, do not pray. Do not wave your hands only stand and be ready to catch.

7. Please do not push or pull anyone over. God does not need any help and it will ultimately backfire.

8. Do not hold anyone up by grabbing their shoulders or upper back.

Let me begin by asking a rhetorical question. If the power of God is knocking people down and placing them in an altered state of consciousness for the purpose of spiritually blessing them, then why do these churches employ the use of catchers?

The answer is quite simple —- if people are falling flat on their backs from an upright position they are very liable to hurt themselves or others.

We previously read that extremists explain this manifestation as being the result of encountering the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, He is not mighty enough to see to it that those He sovereignty knocks down are unhurt by His blessing?

These churches employ catchers because: (1) they know people fake being slain many times. (2) They lack faith in their own stated beliefs. Obviously God is not big enough to safeguard His people.

In our former church along with the male catchers we had sisters who came along beside or behind the catchers with large sheets of material. Their ministry was to place these sheets over the women’s legs and bodies. Why? Because many times when women would be slain in the spirit they would fall in very immodest positions.

We had events where when some unfortunate women fell their dresses would be hiked up their bodies quite a bit, and their legs would be splayed out at inappropriate angles. When the Lord choose to embarrass His daughters in this manner we had to be there to quickly cover up their shame. Does this really sound like something the Lord God would do to His daughters?

Not only can being slain in the spirit prove to be embarrassing to a woman, it can prove deadly as well. Mrs. Ella Peppard died as a result of someone falling on her who had been slain in the spirit.

The ushers quickly pulled her off the stage and sat her in a pew where she cried out in pain for 20 minutes….The woman’s family alleged the ushers refused to call an ambulance because an ambulance would not look good at a miracle service. A lawsuit was settled out of court. Hinn says he never knew the woman was injured or he would have sought medical help.

According to charismatic theology the Holy Spirit will place women in morally embarrassing positions, and at times allow some people to be hurt and/or killed.

I know from past experience (I used to be a catcher) that when there was no one standing behind a saint receiving prayer nine times out of ten they would not fall down. This alone is proof to me that what is taking place is not a sovereign move of the power of God. There is a power involved at times but it is not of God.

3

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

I began by citing Stanley Burgess’s definition in the first chapter and it is a good one except for one point – he says it is a relatively “modern” expression. His statement is not correct. People have been allegedly falling under the power in the United States since the early 1760’s. It was a common expression among the Shakers. There were groups before the Shakers in Europe, which had this same manifestation:

The Convolutionaries

The extreme exercises of the “convolution Aries” startled Belgium and France. The grave of a young Jansenist clergyman, Francois de Paris, in the cemetery of Saint-Medard in Paris, because the scene of reputed marvelous cures. Multitudes flocked thither for healing. Strange bodily agitations seized the devotees. They fell in shakings and convulsions, threw themselves about on the ground, screamed, and assumed unusual and often unseemly postures.

The Shaker’s

Later on in the mid seventeen hundreds in America the Shaker cult also had people falling under the power. Their bodily agitations or exercise were various and called by various names, as the falling exercise…The falling exercise was very common…The subject of this exercise would, generally with a piercing scream, fall like a log on the floor, earth, or mud, and appear as dead.

The Shakers were a cult group led by a woman named Ann Lee. Many of the manifestations which are common to charismatic extremism, were first practiced by the Shakers. Since the Shakers were a pagan cult the source of their manifestations could not have been the Holy Spirit.

The Shakers were very evangelistic in their zeal to propagate their false doctrines & practices. Shaker evangelists were involved with the Cane Ridge “Revival,” and brought their manifestations (which they called “signs”) with them and infected the meetings.

People Were “Slain” During the Cane Ridge Revival

It was during the Cane Ridge meetings that we see more examples of the manifestation of being slain in the spirit. The underlining is added for emphasis:

The scene to me was new and passing strange…Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered…Then the woman who had first stated shouting let out a shrill of anguish. Methodist John McGee, seemingly entranced, made his way to comfort her. Someone (probably his Presbyterian brother) reminded him this was a Presbyterian church; the congregation would not condone emotionalism! Later John recalled, “I turned to go back and was near falling; the power of God was strong upon me. I turned again and, losing sight of the fear of man, I went through the house shouting and exhorting with all possible ecstasy and energy, and the floor was soon covered with the slain” people were falling in ecstasy.

This eyewitness of the Cane Ridge excess described the people falling in “ecstasy,” but is this necessarily a good thing? Pagan religion has long been given over to ecstatic forms of worship (see 1 Kings 18:28). The Oracle at Delphi breathed in the fumes which rose from the ground and in an ecstatic state uttered prophecies which directed the lives of many people.

ECSTASY The state of being in a trance, especially a mystic or prophetic trance. The derivation of our word “ecstasy” (from the Greek ek, out plus stasis, state) suggests an out of body state (2 Cor. 12:2,3) or the state of being out of control.

From what I have personally witnessed and experienced being slain in the spirit is a condition in which the individual’s normal rational mental state is suspended, and that person is for a period of time literally out of control. During the Shaker meetings and at Cane Ridge we find multitudes of people capitulating their volitional sensibilities over to an experience which was so great it physically overwhelmed them. However, it was also noted by the orthodox Reformed ministers at Cane Ridge, that a person simply getting slain was not a true indicator of spiritual regeneration, “They noted that some who “fell” had within six months gone back to the world.”

The Ministry of Charles Finney

After the Cane Ridge revival the experience of being slain in the spirit became common in many revival meetings. One evangelist in particular whose revival meetings were patterned after the emotional excesses of Cane Ridge was Charles Finney. In many of his meetings people were slain in the spirit:

Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets.

The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell

Finney was not particularly concerned with scriptural precedent, he was interested in getting result and fostered the belief that revival was not a sovereign move of God’s Spirit, but that revivals could be planned and worked up by the use of what he called new measures.

The Ministry of Maria Woodworth Etter

Being slain in the spirit was one of the ordinary signs in the ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) the trance evangelist.

Yesterday during the afternoon meeting the Lord Jesus bowed the heaven and came down. Many went under the power. Two women and a girl were struck down unconscious, and lay on the floor…The second woman lay unconscious for about two and one-half hours, with both arms raised to heaven. When she was recovering she sang praises unto God in the spirit.”

Her ministry manifestations began in 1885, 21 years before the Azusa “revival.” She received a spiritual renewal at a Friends meeting in 1879. Here is a woman, who received some type of spiritual power from a Quaker meeting. Keep in mind that the Society of Friends, the Quakers, were originally a non-Christian group (although many people unknowingly lump them in with Christian groups).

Maria would go into trances, people came to her while she was in a trance state and allegedly got “saved.” She would lay hands on others and place them in a similar trance-state.

The Ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson

The practice of people being slain was not widespread in Pentecostal circles after Etter’s death. It became more commonplace through the ministry of another woman minister named Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). Sister Aimee was also a traveling evangelist and she too had people fall out under the power in her ministry—

One of these was a Sunday school teacher at the city’s largest Protestant church. After Aimee touched him, he dropped to the floor trembling and speaking in tongues. The next day, the wife of a leading citizen had a similar experience, and scores of people came to the altar for counseling. The day after that, “Three were slain under the power and through speaking in tongues,” Aimee said.

Aimee was very controversial to say the least. She is the Founder of the Foursquare Gospel denomination. She later died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. To this day charismatic believers ignore the fact that she was a divorcee and most likely faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous liaison in 1926. Yet the power of God is supposed to have flowed mightily through during her life!

The Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman

The next major figure whose ministry is responsible for making the practice of being slain in the spirit part-and-parcel of charismatic healing and miracles services was Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976).

Kathryn committed adultery with a married man, who left his wife and children to marry Kathryn. A few years later Kathryn divorced him and never remarried. She died of heart disease in 1976. I bring these distasteful facets up because it show some of the character of these mighty Pentecostal/Charismatic giants of the faith. I am not saying these people were not saved, nor that they did not sincerely repent of their sins. However, character does matter in ministry.

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Kuhlman was “going under the power” (sometimes referred to as “slain in the Spirit”) as people fell when she prayed for them. This sometimes happened to dozens at a time and occasionally hundreds.

Her ministry was international in scope. Well received by many Pentecostal’s and the fledgling charismatic renewal movement of the 1960’s.

I have witnessed Mr. Kenneth Hagin have a long line of people hold hands and he lay hands on the head of the first person and then the entire line fall down. I have personally seen Benny Hinn whirl around and “throw” a wave of anointing in his meetings and multitudes have fallen, as if shot on several occasions. As recently as August 1, 1997 my wife and I were at the Toronto Airport Church and we witnessed multitudes being slain in the spirit as John and Carol Arnott laid hands on people.

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted By Charismatic Christians Today

This experience is almost universal to all charismatic’s. If you know any, ask them if they have ever been slain in the spirit and what it was like.

This practice and manifestation is accepted de facto due in large part to the following:

  • The long history behind it, i.e. God has always done this.
  • Their own subjective experience of it, they got “blessed.”
  • They have been taught that the Bible clearly teaches this is a legitimate experience of what takes place when God’s power comes on an individual.

Slain- Carol Arnott

As with holy laughter today’s revivalists strongest case is that of historical precedent. Yet when anyone takes an honest look at the history of this manifestation, they see a historical background of occultism (with the Shakers), aberrant mystics like Maria Woodworth-Etter, and ministers of dubious character such as Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman. The historical case is not sufficient, nor will it ever be, to overrule the plain teachings of the Bible.

From an exegetical view point the revivalist have even less support. None of the texts they cite as “proof” for this practice can be legitimately applied. All of the texts have to do with divine encounters which were extremely important to the plan of God either for Israel as a nation or for the Church. It is not enough to locate texts which denote someone falling and then interpret them to refer to being slain in the spirit. All of their comparisons are at best apples-to-apples. None of the writings of the Early Church Fathers indicate any such manifestation as part-and-parcel of normal Christian experience, in fact, they never mention it at all. One would think that these writers would have recorded some evidence of this manifestation in their writings if it was a genuine experience given by the Holy Spirit, especially one that alleges to bestow ministry calls, visions of the Lord, emotional and physical healing. Yet the historic record of the Church for almost 1,700 years is totally silent on this matter.

As I have already stated the history behind this practice is extremely questionable at best. The earliest references we have of it in America come from the Shakers, a non-Christian cult of necromancers. The familiar spirits (demons) told the Shakers at the same time in their various communes that they, the spirits, were leaving the Shakers and going to visit the “world’s people,” and would do so by various manifestations. This did occur and many Christian sects, unsound in doctrine were open to such forms of enthusiasms, and this deception continues to this day. The practice of being slain in the spirit is less than four hundred years old, and has had only marginal acceptance at best in the past. However, this has changed in our time.

Now with rapid growth of neo-Montanism with the Church this practice is now a common, sometimes weekly experience for literally millions of people professing the name of Jesus Christ.

The sheer numbers of people submitting to an experience does not validate it as biblical. Truth is not determined by consensus. Truth is revealed to us by the written Word of God. The Westminster Confession of Faith states what the Christian’s relationship to the Bible ought to be:

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:

God’s Word along is the standard by which we live. His Word contains all things necessary for salvation, faith and life. These things are expressly set down in the Bible, or “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” This deduction however is not accomplished by violating the principles of hermeneutics and wresting the texts from their context in order to attempt to make them fit one’s experience.

This is exactly what today’s revivalists have done regarding being slain in the spirit. This experience is not mentioned once contextually in the entire Bible. Every text the revivalists site as proof of their non-biblical practice has been taken from it context and misapplied.

The revivalists have failed both historically and biblically to make their case that this manifestation is the result of the Holy Spirit or the glory of God coming upon an individual to such a degree their physical bodies cannot withstand it. And thus fall to the ground in some form of a trance-like condition. With this in mind we must seek other explanations.

Learned Behavior

There is an undeniable element of learned behavior with this phenomena. A minister gets up and preaches, towards the end of the message he or she will begin to make allusions to what people may see or experience while being prayed for. Often some of the texts we have considered will be sited to validate what the congregation will see or personally experience. The catchers are called forward and then an alter call is given. The first people are lined up with catchers behind them. Hands are laid on the people and some of them begin to fall into the arms of the catchers. The other people are observing this behavior. When their turn comes, they too fall down.

This is the basic pattern of ministry I have personally observed for over fifteen years, it was the pattern I also used while in full-time charismatic ministry. Although not done consciously, I and other ministers, were setting the state by psychologically preparing the people in advance. On the part of the people, they wanted to get blessed, they wanted a stronger “anointing” or deeper walk with Christ. Seeing others fall, they too fell. Many times I knew as a minister that people were simply “faking it.” How? When people came up for prayer I would notice them quickly look behind them to make sure there was a catcher there to “catch” them when they fell. These fakers, came knowing in advance that they were going to fall, and they wanted assurance they would be caught. 

(TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH!)

Copyright 2009 Robert S. Liichow

* Color-highlight and some bolding are not in the original book by Robert S. Liichow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Coming Great Awakening

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

Discernment Ministries International

The Coming Great Awakening

By Robert S. Liichow

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

RODNEY H. BROWNE

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

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

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

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

Consider the Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revival, Oh Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Biblical Witness of the “End Times”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

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

2. Ibid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Hamon, Bill

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

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

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

 





THE 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