Hysteria or Holy Spirit?
(An Assessment of the 'Toronto Blessing')
By: K. B. Napier
Introduction (By K.B. Napier)
Numerous movements of the Holy Spirit are supposedly taking place in certain parts of the world today. One of the latest is known as the 'Toronto Blessing', where congregations laugh uncontrollably, are 'slain in the spirit', fall down backwards, or stagger around as if drunk - all suspiciously like symptoms of psychologically-induced hysteria, or worse, demon activity. :In a report, James Waddell gives his observations of such a meeting, which he attended in Mid-July, 1994. :The purpose was to see for himself what was going on, although such visits are not recommended, because of the possible spiritual dangers. We are aware of the need for caution in three senses:
The Christian Duty to Examine
It is every Christian's duty to test the spirits to see whether they are of God. :In doing so, we must not think that we know it all! (The essence of discernment is NOT that we have some kind of intuitive thought, but that we allow God to distinguish truth from falsity and to tell us through the Holy Spirit).
Often, Christians from a particular theological background will automatically reject those things that do not comfortably fit into their theological/denominational perspective, regardless of evidences or proofs. Conversely, others will automatically accept whatever supernatural event is claimed to be of God, also because of their theological leaning! Needless to say, this is prejudice (from both sides of the theological fence), not true Christian thinking. Also, obviously, both cannot be correct (if either of them is correct to begin with) when it comes to an evaluation of what is happening today.
True Christian thinking is always bound by what God says, NOT by what we say. We must always bear in mind that whilst God can do whatever He wishes in any way, He is nevertheless bound by two things: His own character and His own declared word, i.e. the Bible. Even God cannot, and would not, act outside those two boundaries, because to do so would be inconsistent - and God, by definition, cannot oppose Himself by being inconsistent, for this would deny and contravene His deity.
Where God's word is not explicit on a matter, we must look for the implicit - that is, conclusions we may reasonably arrive at, given scriptural text and its proper interpretation. If what we examine does not appear to conform to scripture in either of these two ways, then we must tread carefully. Not necessarily because the subject matter is godly (or, ungodly), but because we are unsure.
Whenever we are unsure, we should leave the matter alone until, and if, further evidences lead us toward a definite conclusion. :That conclusion must itself be supported by scripture, for no extra revelations have been added to scripture. :The Holy Spirit certainly speaks to and through Believers today, but He does not give extra revelation. :That is, teaching that is different to what we already have. True Christian teachers are led by the Spirit, but only within the limits set by God in His word. True Christian preachers only preach what is contained in God's word.
Beside looking at the theological claims made by leaders of various movements, we must also look at the things that actually happen (because what we do should match what we believe). Are they consistent with scripture and with declared doctrine? Again, there should be caution on two counts:
In this Article, it is our contention that the 'Toronto Blessing' is not of God, but is definitely of Satan. In any similar situation, there are only five possibilities:
The word 'mainly' has been used, because, in false movements (attributed to God), there is a combination of all three elements, numbers (i) to (iii). Further, something might begin as wholly of God, but then it will degenerate when human beings or demons tamper with its process. Note, however, that whenever sweeping claims are made for unusual 'acts of God', mature Believers are put on their guard, because there is often a demonic foundation for those acts. Even when satanic influence cannot be detected, there is still need for great caution.
By definition, 'mature' Believers are those who know their doctrine, have a broad, systematic knowledge and understanding of God's word, are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis and are not afraid to apply what God wants, to their own lives. If such people hold back and will not place their trust in movements claimed to be of God, then caution should be exercised by others.
Angel of Light
Satan often comes as an angel of light. He can use the very words and appearances of Christian faith to bring Believers down. Many Believers refuse to accept this to be fact, but it is verifiable by the many sects and cults that began/begin with Biblical Truth. This certainly seems to be so in the 'Toronto Blessing' - in this case making it a devilish curse, not a blessing.
Some who lead this 'Blessing' claim that God would not allow falsification of His own movement. Precisely so! :Others ask "Why is God doing this, at this moment in time? It does not make sense!" Precisely so! Far better, in the light of the nature of the phenomena, to ask "Why is Satan doing this at this time?" It is a mistake to suggest that Satan will not mimic what God does. :Of course he will do so - for the purpose of confusing Believers and leading them astray. He does this expertly and, in today's theologically messy climate, he does it very easily!
Every false movement attributed to God is either Satan-led or Satan-used. Sometimes the only clues are inward - where there is a 'gut feeling' that something is wrong. That 'gut feeling' is not an obscure human trait, but is the prompting of the Holy Spirit, telling us to beware. It is a troubling of the soul, sometimes bordering on a holy fear. :How do we tell the difference between a fear sent by the Spirit and a mere human, emotional reaction? :That is simple to answer - if we have already worked through the examination process set out above (no - it is not a formula) and yet we still are unable to come to a conclusion, then we must hold back our judgement. We neither take part or condemn, although we may express our sense of disquiet. :Pray and meditate; watch to see what happens and listen to what is said; be quiet in the Lord.
Many sincere pastors have been caught up in the Toronto Blessing. I do not, here, question their sincerity or their salvation. But I question their motives and their theological understanding. Not out of pride, but out of concern for God's people and concern for God's Truth. They do not appear to understand what their own motives are - in their fervour to usher in revival, they fall foul and follow a lie. Their very fervour has been turned against them by Satan.
This is probably why so many first meetings of this type are quiet and Biblically-centred: by starting with seeming Truth, it is then easier to bring in all manner of deception. Because of the apparently truthful start, leaders are afraid to question what follows! A perfect strategy of demons! Over time, false movements attributed to God are found out. Meanwhile, mature Christians everywhere must stand up and be counted.
REPORT BY JAMES WADDELL
For over a decade I have tried to understand the Charismatic movement and all its derivatives, and to interpret it within the teachings and experiences of other Believers recorded in the scriptures. :In other words "test the spirits to see if they are of God." I consider my scepticism to be healthy, as my Christian beliefs are based on a sovereign and holy God, Who can, and does, do mighty works - but these are always consistent with His character and for His glory. :Thus, if God's Spirit is moving in a meeting, then everything observable and accounted to Him should be consistent with His character and behaviour, as revealed in scripture.
His effect on those present should be awesome and will give glory, without question, to Jesus Christ and to God the Father (not just to 'the Spirit'). When Christ and the Apostles did mighty works of God, Believers and unbelievers immediately recognised the hand of God and there was no ambiguity, relapses, or partial works (which are typical in, say, spiritualistic activities). These works were immediate and powerful. Nothing stood in the way of the power of God.
Many years ago, for a short time, I became loosely involved with the Charismatic movement, as expressed through the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship. Hands were laid on me in a Pentecostal church (I normally attended a mainstream Baptist church), I asked to receive the 'Baptism of the Holy Spirit' (that is, as a second, post-salvation experience) and subsequently started to speak in 'tongues' after being told to 'just say anything'.
I thought I had received the real thing and took encouragement that I was able to speak, or make sounds, which I did not understand. :My intention in all this seemed reasonable enough - I wanted more of God. I wanted more of what He had to offer me, so that I could serve Him better. (Ed. This is yet another Arminian delusion. If God wants us to perform a service for Him, He will give us everything we require, without the need to search for it or have it given by other human beings). My intentions were honourable, but the path I had chosen to achieve them was suspect. Shortly after this experience I went through one of the most traumatic experiences in my Christian life.
I was an undergraduate at the University of Wales, Swansea (UK), at the time. :As my parents lived in Singapore, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit them for the Easter holidays. In 1980 the Charismatic movement was only just beginning to touch the Christian churches in Singapore. The testimony of my experience brought me into contact with two devout Christians. :One of them said that the Charismatic movement was not of God - and the other was living, breathing and teaching it at a Bible School! I respected both these Christian men, but as my knowledge of scripture was weak, the arguments of both of them seemed to be equally convincing.
In the end, the anti-Charismatic prayed over me to exorcise whatever was manifesting itself in me - an experience that scared me tremendously. :Nothing actually seemed to come out of me, nor did I have any visible change. The conclusion at that time was that I had experienced a psychological phenomenon that was not of God. Emotionally and spiritually I was bruised and battered. It is not every day that you are told that what you did and thought, which was meant to please God, was actually of the devil or was psychological!
My response to the mental confusion and emotional anguish was to let the whole matter go. I no longer spoke in tongues and did not again attend Charismatic meetings. I left the whole thing with God to sort out, even though I could not make sense of it. :Following that, I went back to first principles, which was to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the testimony of scripture, and to recognise my need of salvation from sin. :I wanted to serve God and my greatest happiness is when I know I am in the centre of God's will for me, whether the circumstances are pleasant or humanly horrible. :Another result of my turnabout, was the decision to rely only on scripture as a touchstone for all further experiences, to ensure that, by God's grace, I was not led astray in future.
As the years have rolled by I have tried to get a better understanding and interpretation of the Charismatic phenomenon, by examining it against the Biblical model. To date, I still cannot 'fit' the Charismatic movement to scripture. :I hear wonderful testimonies of Christians I respect, referring to the 'mighty presence of God' in meetings; of multitudes being 'slain in the spirit', behaving irrationally, 'laughing in the spirit' and 'singing in the spirit', prophesying...the list goes on. :Healings and other phenomena sound really amazing.
Some years ago I attended a Reinhard Bonnke campaign meeting in Port Talbot, UK, as an observer - and was not impressed. :Then, in July 1994, I attended a meeting in Swansea, UK, where all the phenomena of the 'Toronto Blessing' were evidenced. Whether this meeting was a direct result of the Toronto wave of activity or some other derivative, I do not know, but they are all indistinguishable from each other.
I can sum up the Bonnke meeting very quickly - it was a sham. :To pretend that the 'mighty presence of God' was there to heal people was nothing short of a sick joke. :These are strong words, but the meeting was so pathetic my wife and I walked out in disgust, together with our companions. I refuse to accept a sop of stage-managed theatrics which can produce no evidence that the incidents were of God. When the God of the Bible acts, there are no doubts whatever!
The mid-week meeting I attended in July, 1994, was held in a School assembly hall in Swansea. Although it was led by a group of local pastors from a variety of evangelical churches, my own pastor (Barry Napier of BTM) refused my invitation to attend, saying that he had 'no need to attend' because he knew what it really was all about. And he was right!
Apparently, the pastors had got together at a previous meeting and had 'received a really big blessing' (their own claim, not mine). :One outcome of that meeting was to hold even more meetings, open to interested Christians who wanted to be 'blessed of God'. I went along to the meeting, because it was reported to be the beginning of a revival in the locality.
I arrived at the meeting about half-an-hour late on Thursday, 21st July, 1994. :The congregation consisted of 200 or more people, who were singing choruses. After a short prayer, there was a short address taken from Matthew 11:28 which says: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." But this is only the offer - no mention was made of the conditions imposed in verses 29 and 30: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall have rest unto your souls."
The address reminded me of a sales pitch, but without the conditions of sale. :The congregation was encouraged to 'get excited' about Jesus. We were told that we worship a very, very good God. Personally, I believe that we worship a Holy God first and foremost, and that His goodness is an expression of that Holiness. No mention was made of the God of wrath or of the God of judgement.
Then there was a removal of possible objections to 'come to the front' to be 'prayed over'. We were told not to allow our self-consciousness, nervousness, or inhibitions to stop us from going forward to receive our ‘blessing’. The expectations of the meeting were built up masterfully. By getting people to participate outwardly, by raising their hands in answer to questions, their inward defences were broken down. :More choruses were sung and people were again invited to 'come to the front' to be prayed over.
The newest 'technique' of 'laying on of hands' is NOT to touch the person being prayed over, but to hold the hands a few inches away from the person's head. People fell backwards or forwards, some quickly, some after a while. :This method of laying on of hands seems to have a parallel with hypnotism, where an object is held close to a person, so that attention can be fixed upon it. :Admittedly, some people had their eyes closed, but their expectations or suggestions that they would collapse, were very high. The body-language of some who were praying was very flippant, as if it were all a game. :But maybe it is, to them? :(It may very well be, if they are so lacking in discernment).
When individuals collapsed, care was taken that they did not hurt themselves, by people catching them as they fell. Nevertheless, one day, someone will get hurt or killed if the catcher misses. :Some people twitched on the floor; others lay peacefully, or they stretched out with hands clenched by their sides. :These are all familiar sights in hypnotism stage acts.
The type of people attending was wide ranging and included intelligent, professional medical people, who I respect.
One point I must bring out was the atmosphere of the meeting. :It was potent, like a drug. :Waves of it cascaded over me, pushing me to participate. The idea of taking what was on offer was made very attractive, because it was an escape from reality. No doubt I would have felt very good afterward. But, all the time, despite this almost overpowering feeling, I kept asking myself "Is it scriptural?" My answer was a definite "No"! I could not see a Biblical model for what was happening. It just did not happen that way in Acts.
One man stood up saying God told him that a man who was deaf, or partially deaf, would receive his hearing that very night. :But, there was no follow-up or check made that this was so. Thus the 'word of prophecy' was not confirmed - if that is what it really was.
Little has changed in the Charismatic movement in ten years. :The same basic approach is used, perhaps in a more polished and practised way. Christians are attracted to it, because they see something spectacular happening. :They feel 'refreshed' by the force and power of the meeting and believe that this is what God has for them. :But nothing can be examined or proven, e.g. a man with a withered arm made whole, or a man blind from birth enabled to see.
I suggest that Christians make their own objective studies of what is happening, in the light of scripture. Is it really of God, is it hysteria, or is it a trance-like state? Does it fit what scripture says? Is there a parallel? :Does it give glory to God? :Personally, I believe that what is behind the Toronto Blessing is not of God, but is a deceiving spirit.
(KBN - Note: At later meetings held in Swansea, UK, other observers watched women squirm on the floor like snakes. They heard women laugh maniacally and described the laughter as 'frightening... sounded like witches' cackling rather than like real laughter. They speak of men on the floor, supposedly 'slain in the spirit' but occasionally opening their eyes to see what is going on around them! In churches in England, people have been known to literally run out of the buildings because they feel so frightened.
Many others describe feelings of chilling fear or oppression. As one attendee said: "If all this is of God - why are so many Christians frightened?" Feeling frightened and knowing a feeling of foreboding is NOT the same as knowing holy dread! In my own work, I have come across such cold fear when faced with demonic presences. All the signs point to one source - Satan).
LETTER FROM A BTM READER (SURREY, UK)
"I have been researching the 'revival' phenomenon in our area and want to convey my alarm at what appears to be a demonic manifestation. :I do believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but I don't like the term 'Charismatic'. :And I don't believe many of the things called 'gifts' are, in truth, from God.
I went with some friends to a local church, to see a video of a 'revival' meeting. At the meeting there were prayers for healing and people fell down under the 'influence', laughing uncontrollably, or crawling around (on all fours) like animals. The thing that struck us was that Satan likes to distort people's postures, as a mockery of the Creator God. One man was transfixed to the wall like a 'bar fly' - except that his feet were off the ground!!
The leader read John Chapter One - and the audience broke out in laughter, for no reason! Mocking the word of God, I presume. When people fell down laughing, the leader actually kicked some of them, to keep the manifestation going, and he even stood on one man's chest like a fighter standing over a vanquished foe. :He repeated the word 'drink' dozens of times and spoke the phrase 'Ha,HeeHa' (Ed. a 'spoken' laugh?) over and over again.
The (female) pastor of the local church (I was in) laughed uncontrollably at the video. Afterwards, we debated the veracity of the phenomenon and she lost control and raved angrily at the suggestion that she was using the video to create the same reaction in her congregation. I've never seen a pastor so out of control of his/her emotions. My verdict is that this is a demonic, mocking spirit and it is a serious challenge for true Christianity. Christians who love Jesus are being led to perdition by a delusion that is not Biblical and which is designed to cause division."
NOTES: By K. B. NAPIER of BTM
I agree totally with our reader and James Waddell (we have other written testimonies). The Toronto Blessing is demonic as are most of the charismatic-type phenomena displayed. Like our reader (and although we are not Charismatics), we at BTM believe in the gifts of the Spirit. They are for today, although we rarely see them in operation, even amongst Charismatics, for a number of reasons. One of them is that there are too many false gifts (which folk mistakenly believe to be true gifts). Also, many Believers have little understanding of scripture or of the spiritual life, so they are unable to discern truth from error. Much of this lack of understanding is the fault of poor teaching, or bad interpretation (usually based upon denominational beliefs or theories).
There are also hysterical manifestations created by the psychological state of those who attend such meetings...something James Waddell hinted at. James discovered that his daughter had also visited a similar meeting, unknown to him. She went to the front, was 'pushed' backward by 'something' and laughed like the others. :When asked what had happened, she admitted that she simply did what everyone else was doing! :Yet, those at the meeting 'laughed' and claimed that she had been 'filled with the Spirit'!! So much for discernment!
This reminds me of a very amusing (but sad) story, told by my brother, David. :At one time he was part of a small successful Christian singing group. They travelled to a Christian recording studio, run by a Charismatic. :During the recording of one particular song, David - who has a great sense of humour - started to fool about, pretending to do a disco-dance, but with very much exaggerated movements, for some light relief. As he fooled about, the recording engineers called others into their booth and they were enraptured - they were convinced that David was 'dancing in the Spirit' and even praised God for His outpouring!! Clearly, those who are looking for these phenomena will be convinced by any old rubbish, that it is 'of God'.
Note that the scripture used in the meeting attended by James had nothing at all to do with the situation or with the supposed 'gifts'. :This is typical of many similar charismatic-type meetings - the scripture knowledge of attendees/leaders is woefully inadequate, or is badly interpreted. (Note: It is a truism that there are charismatics and charismatics! Some are wild and virtually out of control, spiritually; others are middle-of-the-road; yet others are sober and solidly-Biblical, holy folk who reject the excesses of others. As usual, we must not tar all people with the same brush because they bear the same name).
Typically, leaders of this present movement refer back to Pentecost to justify members doing all sorts of stupid things. They say "Didn't the people in Jerusalem think that the disciples were drunk on the day of Pentecost? Well, when people reel about like drunks today, it is the same Spirit in them!" This is complete bunkum! It shows just how much these folk know of their Bible and of the theology that comes from it! :They refer to Acts 2, verse 13: "Others mocking said, these men are full of new wine." :In verse 15 Peter retorts, saying "...these are not drunken, as ye suppose..." I do not know who is worse - the men who mock Christians, or those Christians who mock Biblical text by applying completely erroneous interpretations to support their own pseudo-theological theories!
Verse 13 is quite clear about it - observers were NOT saying that the disciples were rolling around in what appeared to be a drunken stupor. :They were just trying to make fools of them (by suggesting that, just like drunks, they made no sense), because they did not understand what was going on. Here were Jews, on a traditional Jewish festival, 'going over the top' by preaching salvation as given by the Messiah... something that got the Messiah Himself killed! That was why some mocked and said "This lot must be drunk!" :It was a turn of phrase, NOT an observation of actual behaviour that was likened to the idiocy of drunkards.
Nowhere in this account of Pentecost will be found the slightest notion that there was behaviour remotely like that of drunks. So, when people act like drunks in meetings and claim that they are acting as disciples acted on the day of Pentecost, they are speaking in ignorance. Apart from there being no Biblical evidence to support the crazy happenings resulting from the 'Toronto Blessing', there is plenty of theological argument against such an idea.
God simply would not deny His own Creatorial dignity of Man, by making him do all manner of stupid things. Nor would He make Man crawl or howl like beasts - that being a sign of judgement, NOT of the Holy Spirit within. :There is no dignity in the current meetings, only a foolish disregard for Truth and sense. :Furthermore, the phenomena mostly appear to externally work upon those attending - they are not given to them as gifts. Nor do they have real purpose.
When I worked in psychiatry, and until I had the courage to oppose them, I had to lead and take part in many so-called 'psychotherapy' group sessions. :In these, it was easy for a leader, or some other prominent figure within the group, to completely dominate everyone and to make them do whatever they wished. Frankly, I was able to completely manipulate patients, so that they did what I wanted them to do. (Supposedly for clinical reasons, of course!). Never underestimate the power of group dynamics - this power is ever-present in churches today, because a church is, essentially, another group! :It is certainly present in many churches that claim to be Charismatic, where there are usually strong forms of leadership or 'discipleship'. (This is not confined to charismatic-type churches only. Group dynamics can be found in varying degrees of influence in all churches).
Readers are urged to look at the account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts. Nowhere in that account can we see the indignity found in many present day movements. :Nor the led and enforced responses of human leaders. Nor the demonic activities! Let us be brutally frank here - a man transfixed to a wall, with his feet off the floor? THAT IS DEMONIC! :God is not a God of fancy tricks and childish pranks! A pastor laughing uncontrollably when watching even a video of what is going on? THAT IS DEMONIC! A pastor* losing her temper so quickly when confronted/opposed? :THAT IS DEMONIC! (* a woman cannot be a pastor anyway - so maybe her outburst is merely a part of her general disobedience).
I, too, have attended similar meetings in the past - and have walked out of them in sheer disgust. Each one was visibly and cleverly constructed by human means - I fully recognise group dynamics at work and know when I am being manipulated! :But, in the case of the 'Toronto Blessing', it is more like a 'Glasgow Kiss'!! (For those who don't know it, a Glasgow Kiss is a punch in the face!). There is no blessing, but a full-blown attack by demons. This is evidenced by the way people are made to crawl like animals, howl like dogs, roar like lions, laugh without control, scream abuse when approached, fall down, shake, etc.
Anyone who has knowledge of demon possession and oppression will tell you that these are signs of a demonic presence, not a sign of God's presence! :They are in the realm of spiritualists/occultists and heathen, not of Christians. :This observation is not meant to denigrate my brethren, but is meant to warn them to refute the falsity that is quickly gripping so many today.
What are we to make of all this? Scripture tells us that many Believers will be drawn away to error in the Last Days. :They will turn against those of true faith. They will believe a lie. :When pastors call these frightening phenomena 'revival' there is something drastically wrong with their perception - they are unable to tell the difference between Satan and God. :How else can they run after supposed 'revival' like this? How else can they be duped so easily by Satan? However, there are countless false pastors in the world today, who mislead congregations badly. :These folk place their trust in their pastors, but all they get is bad teaching, leading to a lack of hunger for Truth and a thirst for novelty and extra-Biblical revelations.
It seems that anyone who opposes, or asks questions of, the current movement, are called 'hysterics' because they are 'making a fuss about nothing'. (Really, such a statement can only come from a low attitude toward God and His holiness). It is said that at such meetings there are a few 'conversions' and so the excesses may be excused and allowed for that reason. Some even acknowledge the phenomena to be demonic, but accept them because of the supposed 'conversions'!
Firstly, there is no way that a mature Christian can 'allow' or 'excuse' excesses (another word for sins!) - because God does not accept them;
Secondly, these are not simply 'excesses' - they are occult phenomena! :Whether 'excesses' (personally induced) or occult happenings (externally induced), they are sin and cannot be condoned;
Thirdly, the end does not justify the means - as we have said before, this is a Jesuit ploy, not a Christian one; it is a lie of Satan, not an holy concession.
Fourthly, some pastors and leaders are seeking to 'discuss' what they are doing - beware! :Such discussions often end in tears, as people are manipulated until they join the throng. The matter is quite simple: begin with the statement that the phenomena are of Satan and are sinful, because they patently are... any 'discussion' about the movement's 'goodness' is then superfluous! :Do not be bound-up with endless chat about peripheral issues, but go straight to the core of the matter. :The question is NOT "How many are saved", but "Is what we are doing wrong?" and "Is this scriptural?"
I would seriously query the supposed 'conversions' and even if some were saved, it does NOT justify the means used - it only indicates that folk are saved regardless of and despite the means, for God cannot and will not go against His own character and word. :Indeed, the confusion amongst many in the churches (across the board - this is not confined to Charismatics) is proof enough of the movement's true source - God is NOT the author of confusion! Once again, friends - beware.
Today, many congregations are so low-key in their spirituality, that they are almost spiritually dead. I say this in all seriousness, but also warn myself that I, too, can become as they, if I let my guard down. (Indeed, if ever I do become as they are, I pray that others will be concerned enough to tell me so!). Yes, people are saved in this generation - but there they remain. :They rarely read their Bibles, or if they do, it is with the 'help' of a curious mixture of humanly written books and bad teaching. Their 'prayers' are repetitive and vain. Their 'belief' in God, in reality, is virtually nil. Almost without exception (thank God there are exceptions!), their thinking is entirely Arminian. This goes for their pastors, too. They will read selected books and apply their own interpretation to scripture, so that what they preach 'fits' their own ideas/denominational beliefs. :The current movement is a part of this great delusion - it fits what they want to see, not what scripture teaches.
What are we to do? Believers MUST recant if they are involved in these things! There is no option in this, for God is a jealous God. Get back to the simple message, that we need to be saved from our sins and must rely only on God's word (and not on alien phenomena) as found in scripture. Be logical - if God is going to give you something, He does not need human beings to do silly things to you, to call you out, or to hold special meetings. He will lead you anyway! Look, too, at the manifestations and thank God that you have recanted - what we are seeing (as our contributing reader correctly deduces) is a mocking, deceiving spirit. It is not Godly. Today we live in heathen lands and this is just one sign of godlessness. :Make no mistake about it - godlessness is in our churches in force.
Too many are couch-Christians, wanting every spiritual blessing handed to them on a plate. That is why they attend these meetings. It is far easier than working hard at their faith (see what Paul says in the first ten chapters of One Corinthians!). They all want instant faith and wondrous visions, as was predicted in the New Testament. :Do you want to be a part of this false, demonic movement? Or will you bend a stiff neck to God and allow Him to work in you as He pleases, at His own pace? :If readers still do not have the message, the next section is a report of the original 'Toronto Blessing'. :If that does not convince, then nothing will!
THE ACTUAL TORONTO BLESSING
(Summary & Commentary by K. B. Napier; quotes from The Daily Telegraph, UK)
This is where we get a clue as to the source of the 'Toronto Blessing'...it all started in a small building a hundred yards from the end of Toronto Airport. (The movement actually began some time before this, but Toronto was the catalyst). What is significant, is that it is occupied by the 'Toronto Airport branch' of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship - one of hundreds. Vineyard was started in Anaheim, California, by none other than controversial Charismatic leader, John Wimber! That explains a great deal about the Toronto Blessing. (The fact that Wimber was controversial is not an issue, for many thinkers are controversial. :The vital point is that this man was known to twist scripture and to propagate unbiblical phenomena).
It is claimed that the first few meetings where orderly and composed and so it is deduced that, although there are now wild 'excesses', this 'proves' the movement MUST be of God. This is neither logical or necessarily true. It is quite reasonable to suggest that Satan, being a master strategist, can lull folk into an initial sense of security, bringing in increasing lawlessness as time goes on, and as people accept what is happening. :Also note how Paul speaks to the Corinthians in his first letter to them: it is evident that he had previously taught them the truth, but that they then degenerated in all things, from sexual conduct, to the Lord's Supper and to use of gifts. :Paul thus calls them back to the Truth and to turn away from their excesses and sometimes Satanic activities.
Every night, six nights a week, this tiny church is crammed with visitors. To quote: "...every night there are astounding scenes of people shaking with laughter, slipping into a trance, falling to the floor, and crying....evangelical Christians (says the church pastor, John Arnott) have swarmed to Toronto like pilgrims to Lourdes".
They travel from the United States, Canada, Europe - particularly England - and other parts of the world. As one report says: "In the world of Charismatic evangelism, this is the place to be." Holy Trinity, a cathedral in Brompton, UK, with a congregation of rich young people, was one of the first to experience the same things. Importantly, it is a Charismatic church. Charismatics have been saying that what has been happening may be "more than a renewal, more even than a revival. The world, it is said, may in fact be on the verge of a fully-fledged awakening - something on the scale of the great Wesleyan movement during the 19th century." A 'church administrator' from St Barnabas Church, London (planted by Holy Trinity, Brompton) claims that "God is pouring His Spirit out".
In England, some churches want the same experiences but are playing-down what is happening, because they do not want ridicule or scorn from the press. The vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton, Sandy Millar, hesitates to call the 'Blessing' a revival or an awakening, but says "I obviously have my hopes". He believes that the signs now being seen are "clearly" of God. :"We must continue to pray for understanding, and judge these events by their fruit."
But, what exactly are these 'fruit', in his eyes? What about the unholy happenings that occur before those 'fruit' appear? :Such as English bishop, David Pytches, crawling on the floor and roaring like a lion? There is no way that such an event can be called 'of God' unless one sees perversity and evil as being 'Godly'! Crawling around and barking like a dog or roaring like a lion, is something we can expect from the demonically possessed, not from the saved! Being pinned to a wall and being levitated is an occult activity, not an holy one! Laughing uncontrollably when reading one of the most profound books in scripture (John One) is demonic mockery, not holy mirth - especially as that chapter speaks of God's only Son coming in the flesh to save sinners!
The 'charismata' are perceived to be the "outward signs of the Holy Spirit visiting a person. According to the New Testament, it is what happened to the Apostles at Pentecost. :At the airport Vineyard, it's what happens every night." This is not true scriptural theology and presupposes that the Holy Spirit 'comes down to visit' people, when, in fact, He is already resident within each and every person who is saved, having entered at the very point of salvation. :BTM cannot emphasise enough that Vineyard's thinking is not Biblical. It is based on Arminianism...what human beings do to obtain God.
At the airport meetings, people get up, give a brief testimony and then swoon! :One pastor who went to see what was happening saw seven grown men writhing on the floor in front of him. :One of the Airport pastors believes this is all of God and says "I don't know why it's happening here in this grotty little church...we don't know why God picked our dumb little church among so many others." :It is not beyond Biblical reason to suppose that Satan, not God, chose the place because it was 'grotty' and 'dumb'! :These events fly in the face of righteous logic and scriptural declaration.
What is happening in Toronto is nothing at all like what happened on the Day of Pentecost! A true reading of the text gives us something far more majestic and awesome, bearing no resemblance to the current ramblings and occult phenomena. :Demons must be laughing ceaselessly as they watch humans doing their bidding and as they hear them attribute it all to God!
That there is a strong element of human psychology is seen in the way the meeting builds up to a crescendo. Toward the end, chairs at the front are moved away in advance, because leaders expect others to be 'slain' and to fall, and visitors expect to do so. :And, sure enough, they fall in plentiful succession!
One older man, who was speaking in English, began to speak in 'tongues'. :The clue to the source of his 'tongue' is found in the fact that his face was contorted as if in pain - yet another sign of demonic activity, for demons love to twist and contort human faces and bodies, as I can testify from observation.
What has been called a 'time of refreshment' has boosted Charismatic church planting by Holy Trinity, Brompton. As one report says "Many Christians have been critical of the Charismatic movement, which started in America in the late 1960's, and rapidly spread to mainstream churches of all denominations. They are bound to be suspicious of this latest outburst of enthusiasm." Very true! :I do not see the present movement as 'enthusiasm' at all - at least not for Biblical Christianity. :Rather, it is enthusiasm for something new. I repeat that this kind of thing is the result of laxity and ignorance, not of enthusiasm for solid, hard-working faith. It is a judgement of God upon a faithless generation.
The fact that Biblical truth is not the prime concern, is found in the words of Clive Calver, then leader of the 600,000 strong Charismatic, Evangelical Alliance: "What is important is that this internal transformation is accompanied by a new commitment to social action - such as care for the poor and the homeless. :If this happens, it's nothing but good news."
I think of the battle cry of the 1904 Welsh Revival - "Bend me, Bend me" - a cry that was uttered from hearts broken before a holy God and that felt the deepest horrors of personal sin. Rather different from 'social action'. Social action is no proof of Holy Spirit involvement! :Is social action the 'fruit' required of this movement? The March for Jesus is said to have been critically affected by the Toronto experience - the March itself is the brainchild of extreme Charismatic leaders in the USA, so we ought not be surprised.
The pastor of a London, England, Baptist church, who visited Toronto says that "Christians should look past manifestations and concentrate on the historical Jesus."* :This is false theology, for it means that no matter what happens, it must surely still be of God! There are spiritualists who accept the historicity of Jesus, but whose activities and phenomena are the result of demon involvement! His words are enthusiastic but dangerous. Whilst some claim church members are repenting, this is not, in itself, proof of God's presence in the 'Blessing' per se. Beside – what is really meant by ‘repenting’?
Interestingly, a charismatic pastor was not impressed. :He said that at the start of the meeting, he saw a number of women, all shaking or waving their arms in the air. He had no doubt that their condition was self-induced (much like African tribes-women who dance their way into a trance). The leader called people to the front (all of whom were known to him - possibly like a stage performer having a 'plant' amongst the audience? :Thus, he could be assured of a predictable response. Readers may think this is terribly cynical - but when assessing such enormous claims, all possible factors need to be taken into account. :Even if the leader is 'choosing' his 'stuntmen', this does not necessarily mean he is deliberately being misleading. But it would certainly mean that he is fulfilling his own prophesies. :Either way, the activities would be sinful).
Commenting on those called to the front, the pastor (remember - he is a charismatic, not one who is anti-gifts) said: "...we were treated to a performance of uncontrollable laughter, jerking and shaking. Each was interviewed, but little was said that I could describe as glorifying the Lord - indeed, some were virtually unable to speak intelligibly..." :One incident particularly bothered him: "...a female, was asked to pray over one of the men...she came out jerking so violently that it appeared to me as if she could have been plugged into an electricity supply. As she tried to 'lay hands' on this guy, they both fell in an untidy heap on the floor...much to the amusement of the vast majority present. :At this point I was ready to leave...There were several 'prophetic roars' - men roaring in a great loud voice like lions...Nobody gave an explanation for this. :I found it most disturbing, though...the majority found it amusing." Note how amused the congregation were? Is this the mark of God's presence? Certainly not! :Rather, it is the amusement of demons, who ruled the meeting, mocking both God and people.
The 'last straw' for this charismatic pastor came: "The final thing that caused me to leave the meeting disappointed, concerned and very sad, was when the youth pastor spoke. :As he prayed 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain', uncontrollable laughter broke out from a few folk. :He read Isaiah 55 - more laughing. During the reading of Scripture 'He went to the cross and endured it' - even more laughter. I just could not reconcile the sacrifice that was made by Christ on the cross being drawn to people's attention, and at the same time uncontrollable laughter supposedly being the work of the Spirit." (These quotes from Evangelicals Now, Aug. 1994).
Wherever this 'Blessing' erupts, there is the same maniacal laughter, much of which is aimed at solemn passages of scripture. :This is demonic. However disturbed that pastor was, he hesitates to say that the movement is not of God. :Come now - what we are here observing is NOT OF GOD! Would God laugh like a maniac at His own holy word? No way! :Would He cause people to fall over each other in violent shaking? No way! :To suggest that these things could possibly be of God is the product of human brainwashing and deception, not of Holy Spirit discernment.
Some point to the revivals following the preaching of John Wesley. But, his contemporary, Whitefield, warned him that whilst he thought God was behind the revival, nevertheless, he thought that Satan was behind the various phenomena! :The difference today is that true gospel preaching is not at the forefront of the present movement. Rather, the phenomena are foremost. If preaching - and I mean proper, theologically-consistent, doctrinally-true, Biblical preaching, not just a few vague words of 'praise' - were present, then I for one might concede that God may indeed be behind a possible revival, but that (as in Wesley's time) Satan was making sport of people.
Sadly, the current movement appears to revolve around phenomena - and of a particularly ridiculous, dark kind. The phenomena use the people as pawns and appear to have no connection with spiritual gifts. Some say that the only way we can assess it all, is to see what happens over time. :That is, will those involved live-out lives consistent with being bound to Almighty God? :While we await such proofs*, the movement runs on at a seemingly unstoppable speed and force. As it does so, it produces stupidity and blasphemy. There is no way that we can simply wait for historical outcomes! That would be spiritual cowardice! (July 2000: Time has proved that the hope for life changes was false).
Alan Morrison, a Derbyshire, England, pastor, likens the movement's meetings to acts of hypnotism, saying that there are no Biblical precedents, even though adherents claim there are. Adherents point to Saul's Damascus road experience as an example of being 'slain in the Spirit'. :This is patently unbiblical and those who make the claim have no real theological knowledge. Saul's experience was not vague, nor did it knock him senseless. :Jesus came to him personally and Saul was very aware of what was going on around him. Jesus was there for a definite purpose. Saul did not shake or laugh or fall backwards in a swoon! It was totally different from being 'slain in the Spirit'! (Others have noted that today people fall backwards - when, in Biblical text, they fell forward, on their faces in awe).
At BTM we have no doubt whatever that the Toronto Blessing is demonic at source, with a covering of human psychological hysteria. :One's intelligence has nothing to do with it. In fact, one's orthodoxy is almost irrelevant, too. That many folk come from non-Charismatic denominations is also irrelevant. It is a fact that even the most solid of Believers will fall to Satan if they once show an interest in his works. James Waddell was extremely fortunate that he did not succumb to such influences when he visited his meeting! Thank God he was able to come away with his critical faculties intact. :Biblical integrity is lacking in these meetings, as is the absence of Holy Spirit discernment. :This is the result of mass ignorance within the churches, an ignorance that comes partly from uncalled preachers and pastors and partly from the incredible lethargy amongst countless Believers today.
Such movements as this harm the churches by destroying the very core of true Christian love and the determination to 'fight the good fight' and to 'run the race'. These aims have been taken over by a superfluous, superficially-thin love of novelty which becomes a breeding ground for heresy and broken spiritual lives. Those who care, and whose love of Christ is greater than their love for spiritual toys, can do something about this sorry affair.
They must firstly gird themselves about with God's Truth - by reading scripture as it is written, NOT as it is interpreted by any of the 'ism's' or by zealots. They must pray continuously, seeking for protection against infiltration of their hearts and minds by what is basically mindlessness - the favoured state of demons.
They must not be confused and diverted by claims of marvels and wonders, but must go back to scripture and to God. Pray that error will always be confounded and dispersed. Pray for those who are caught in these movements of madness. Do not hesitate to condemn what is obviously evil. In short, we must ALL become the soldiers of God we ought to be. :Only then can we fight the enemy from within.
What particularly interests me about the Toronto Blessing (and what makes it different to all previous movements) is its instant and multi-person effect. :This makes it even more dangerous. :The Charismatic movement has been going now for some years and effects can range from mild to strong. :But there is usually a build-up. :This new activity is so quick in its effect that people have no time to be defensive. :To me, this is what sets it apart significantly from 'normal' Charismatic activity. It also indicates the seriousness with which Satan is now acting.
One implication of his new strategy is that the churches must be in a terribly weak state, for him to be so bold! Even before this phenomenon began, many churches were like paper buildings built upon shifting sand. Now, Satan's envoys are gleefully attacking those buildings like termites.
Before too long, therefore, I predict* the collapse of many local churches. :This will mainly take the form of more extreme adherence to charismata, a further dilution of doctrine and a more open hatred for brethren who oppose them. :There will also be splits and divisions. :Actual closures will be few, so the cancer will spread. Beware, friends. :This is a very real attack on us all. :It will take much prayer and dynamic resistance, in God's name and the humility to repent. (*July 2000: This prediction came true!).
Those who are already questioning this new phenomenon should not stay silent. Express your doubts! :Do not let the thoughts of your conscience go unheeded - you may be the only spiritually sane person in your fellowship, so your responsibility is great. :Do not just question what is going on. :If you see or hear things that are plainly in opposition to God or to His word, then say so, loudly and clearly. :Keep saying it until people take notice.
I know only too well, that many who call themselves Christians (and who claim to love the brethren!) will become very angry when they read this Article. But, for too many years mature Christians have remained quiet when various movements have emerged, most of which have paid scant regard to Truth. God is NOT in the Toronto Blessing (and similar charismatic movements). :It is a sign of evil and judgement, not of the Holy Spirit - and it makes utter fools of those who are taken in by it. That Christians cannot recognise this is evidence of their delusion.
There is no way that I will sit on the theological fence when I see such blatantly heathen activity being passed off as God's work! :When that happens, is it any wonder that outsiders look on and call Christians idiots? :This Article is a call to all churches to be on their guard against this new, but voracious, demonic assault on the true Church. If it appears to be entering your doors, throw it out without hesitation, or suffer the consequences and throw out your reasoning instead!
There is much need for tough talk on this matter. The movement is like a teenager out of control, doing whatever it wishes. What is needed is a total clamp-down, not indulgence! Do not give it credence by simpering on the sidelines, saying "Well, maybe some of it is of God". Do not be side-tracked by the appeals made by Christians you know who are so convinced of their rightness in falling down, laughing like maniacs and crawling around the floor! (Although not mentioned in this Article, Benny Hinn began this present movement along with Rodney Browne).
Obviously, the leaders of this movement will believe they are doing God's will. The majority of those who attend meetings will believe they are witnessing a revival and genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit. (But, what is their touch-stone? How can they tell the difference between what is of God and what is of Satan?). No doubt, this author will be denounced from many pulpits* and will be known as the arrogant man who claims to 'definitely know this is not revival'. This is to be expected. (*July 2000: This actually happened, and continues to this day).
Surely, some will say, there was no need to say that leaders are being deluded? :How else can it be said? :What is a false belief, but a delusion? If what we see is not a movement of God, then it is a lie. And if it is lie, then those who believe in it believe falsely. That is, they are deluded! :A delusion (false belief) is a delusion, no matter what it is called.
Surely, there was no need to say that these folk are being deceived and that they deceive others? If something is a delusion, a false belief, then it is believed in opposition to Truth. :It is charitable to say that Christians are being deceived - for if they are not being deceived, they are deliberately believing a lie! :I, for one, sincerely pray that they are deceived and are not deliberately misleading themselves and others, for otherwise the implications would be so vile as to be unthinkable. And if such folk are deceived, they must be warned. :From long experience I know that people who are under a delusion lull themselves into a sense of security. :Therefore, it takes a blunt warning to make them think.
Surely, then, the criticism could have been kinder? :But why? Does God treat kindly, those who believe lies and act outside of His will and, worse, (even unwittingly) mislead God's people? No, He does not! Is it love for the brethren to watch them continue in a lie, damaging their own souls? :Is it love for God, to listen to wave after wave of deception, when His Truth is so clearly stated in scripture? What we are seeing is a lie on a massive scale and it is bringing great error into the churches; it is deluding those who should know better. The result can only be to the Church's detriment. Therefore, it must be opposed bluntly and directly.
Is this author right? Is the current movement truly of Satan? Or am I myself deluded and everyone else is right? That remains to be seen - I only know that as soon as I first heard of what was happening in this movement, I was strongly compelled to denounce and oppose it. This has not been done lightly, but with a knowledge that the response of others will be swift and strong. No-one, including myself, wishes to put his head into a lion's mouth! But, I have no choice in the matter.
Yes, it could (and will!) be said that such denunciation, and NOT the Movement, is of Satan. Well, God will deal with me if that is so. :But until - and IF - that happens, I remain unconvinced that the Toronto Blessing is of God...and anything that is not of God is of Satan - and whatever is not with God is against Him.
The charge will be made "He has no right to condemn the movement if he has never attended a meeting!" :My answer to that is simple - I do not need to experience murder to know that murder is wrong! :If the movement is wrong, it will be wrong whether or not I attend. Beside, I have no wish to attend something I perceive to be harmful to my spiritual wellbeing.
As one familiar with the incidents and account of the 1904 Revival, I cannot help but compare what is happening today with what happened then. :Let me quote from the biography of Rees Howells (founder of the Bible College of Wales), written by N. Grubb:
"The Revival proved what the Holy Ghost could do through a company of Believers, who were of one spirit and of one mind as on the Day of Pentecost. We had seen (before) what the Lord could do through a yielded evangelist or pastor.. but in the Welsh Revival it was a divine power manifested through the Church. :The keynote was, 'Bend the Church and save the world.' The one aim was the saving of souls.... Under the influence of the Spirit there was an irresistible power. The feeblest ones were often clothed with a majesty that was indescribable, and their words were with unction, as they showed how the Saviour was 'slain for our offences and raised for our justification.
'Whole congregations were melted, and people were crying out in agony of soul, 'What must we do to be saved?' "
This description is so vastly superior, so holy - compared with which the present Movement is inferior and taunting. Are people today 'clothed in majesty'? No - they crawl on the floor, howl like dogs, laugh like maniacs and fall backward! :Is the aim to save souls? :No - the aim is to experience phenomena - phenomena which have no purpose but to denigrate Christians and lower them into the dirt. Irresistible power? :Definitely! But it is not of God. :It is the power of Satan over a people who nominally believe and who know little of God's Truth. :It is probable that many leaders want to believe they are part of revival and they want to believe it is of the Holy Spirit. :Anyone who understands the potent power of self-fulfilling prophecy can understand what is going on. :Those who want to believe in what is happening, say "Just go with it. :Let God fill you". Those who want to examine what is happening are pushed aside.
I urge readers to again read the short passage from Grubb's book. :It is repeated in other testimonies by eye-witnesses of, and partakers in, the 1904 Revival. :They all speak of the awe and holiness, the power of God in salvation and the deep acknowledgement of sin. :None of it ties in with the present movement, with its ludicrous parody of God's handiwork.
On this rock I stand, no matter what the consequences - for if what is happening is really of God, then it is a 'God' I do not recognise from His own word!
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