"Look Past the Manifestations..."
By: K. B. Napier
The present situation is a strange one. In the Article 'Hysteria or Holy Spirit', I said that the 'Toronto Blessing' was not of God. (It must be admitted that I know of only a few other writers in the UK who have said the same thing. Others appear to stop short of such a statement, although they are very unhappy about the whole movement). The majority in my home town appear to oppose me...although it is quite likely that many have not really weighed up the issues involved. In the past, too, many Believers have been afraid to show support, for a number of reasons (see 'Charismaticism' Article).
What is strange is this - I do not despise the gifts of God. I cannot, for even salvation and faith are gifts of God - to deny His gifts is to deny His salvation! Yet, I deny the apparent 'gifts' given in the present 'Blessing', along with the manifestations and the much-claimed 'fruit'.
The present movement makes me restless. (Note, December 2000: This article was written at the height of the Toronto Blessing. Since it stopped, the contents can equally apply to similar movements and to the effects and continuations of the ‘Blessing’). There is an underlying unease and the distinct knowledge that everything is not all that it seems to be. A falsehood is working, but along many fronts, as if to confuse. To make matters worse, people are attending these meetings in droves - people I know who claim to be Believers. It is as if the purpose is to make 'opposers' feel unbalanced and to refuse to comment. Typically, those who criticise 'opposers' from the sidelines never speak out publicly, no matter what is going on.
Also typically, some of these good folk will write personal letters to me, in support! But my critics do not know that. Yet, it is a fact that I receive many letters from folk who are unable to voice their concerns for fear of reprisal from their peers or pastors/leaders. (I must state, that letters of support, even if they could be counted in millions, would not be ultimate proof that what I say is correct. In this situation, if I am correct it will be supported by scripture, not by consensus or my own views).
Another strange fact is this - in all the years I have been a Christian, only two pastors in my home city have ever contacted me on a friendly basis...really, on any basis! One, who was a genuine friend of the family, is now dead. The other, ironically, is a charismatic. He called me recently and spoke his mind, but in a friendly manner. I cannot agree with his theology, but I will always remember that at least he contacted me. (Note, December 2000: Sadly, this man, also, quickly turned against me as the ‘Blessing’ gripped his soul. He has not since recanted).
The importance of this is that many Christians say I am wrong in this or that - BUT NO-ONE HAS BOTHERED TO COME TO ME, OR EVEN TO WRITE TO ME. This is odd, given that they are my brethren, whose 'love' is meant to support and/or rebuke me! No, instead, they avoid me in supermarkets and in the street. Or, they remain totally silent. Except for that one man. I do not think any the less of the silent ones and will say no moreabout it, but will leave it stand as an observation...that silence is the favourite weapon in the churches. (See Article on Good Men Staying Silent).
One fellow (Pentecostal), an ex-missionary, castigated me in public because I warned an unbeliever that he was going to hell (a perfectly proper statement, given the circumstances of the letter), and he did not like the way I had said it. His letter was like a fetter of iron. He had no concern whatever for me or even for his own letters, which were devastating in their unscriptural approach. His only interest was that, as far as he was concerned, I had said the right thing, but 'with the wrong attitude'...that is, I was 'harsh'. A few others have said a similar thing, not about everything I have ever said or written, but about the more high-profile matters. It has again been said about the present issue. Therefore, although I dislike talking about myself, I must address this retort.
Firstly, I am a very private person. I hesitate to speak to others, let alone divulge what I am thinking. It usually takes me a long time of getting to know people before I speak on any matter, whether in or out of the churches. As a person I dislike any kind of confrontation or argument.
Secondly, many equate how I write with my personality. If I write bluntly and 'harshly' it is assumed that I am a heartless and harsh person. To my knowledge, this is far from the truth. People's perceptions of the manner of my writing have been conditioned by one or two public statements. If they really read what I have said over the years, they would be unable to call me 'harsh'. (There is a difference between ‘hard’ and ‘harsh’). The way I write is not determined by myself. If it were up to me, I would write so as to make friends, not enemies! Scripture is much harder and more blunt than I have ever been!
Thirdly, I only make public statements when I am compelled to, by conscience, by adherence to scripture, and by God's command via the Holy Spirit's prompting. Whenever I write something of magnitude, I agonise, sometimes for a very long time, over what I write - both the content and the way it is said. It is not unusual for me to write and rewrite the same article or letter (no matter how long or short) many, many times.
On the occasions when I write 'harshly' (at least that is the perception of others), I do so after much heart-searching and pondering over the consequences. I know very well what will happen and my stomach churns in anticipation of the unpleasant responses. I literally tremble with the knowledge that what I say will engender hatred or dislike for me. I know that others will think "There he goes again! That Napier should be stopped! He brings disrepute upon Christ! Look how harsh he is! Why can't he be more loving in his approach?"
Yes, I know all these things and I am aware of such reactions even before my letter or article is ever published. Yet, despite this, I must write as I am led to write. Believe me, I have no human desire to oppose others as I do!
Fourthly, 'harshness' is in the eyes of the beholder. What others call 'harsh' I call 'loving', but ‘hard’ in the Biblical sense. How can I say this, when my words are tough? Look at scripture. Look at how 'hard' Jesus Himself is at times. Or is He harsh? One must look past one's own desire to be accepted. I say what I say because God is to be praised, above all else. Even preaching the gospel is secondary to this command. So is gaining acceptance amongst the churches. A mother who loves her son will often need to be 'hard' in order to stop him from doing silly things. If that son is lost, her first response when he is again found is to shout at him in anger...only it is not real anger, it is a sign of love!
I have been told that I should treat all fellows as the prodigal son. But this is not appropriate in many situations. There is a time when tough talk is required and it must be done, regardless of one's own human unease at being the object of derision or dislike. Today, whole churches are going astray. A loud voice, speaking bluntly, is needed. The watchman on the walls must shout a warning,even if he is accused of waking up the town! (See Articles ‘What Is a Railing Accusation?’ and ‘Is It Wrong To Make These Things Public?’).
More and more evil is stalking the churches. Satan is looking for whom he may devour. Whilst staying true to God is the prime objective of what I say, the second objective is to help build up the Church of Jesus Christ. Sadly, because of the state on the Church, this must be preceded by much warning and strong talk. Others have different ministries, using different approaches.
Fifthly, I am told that if I spoke more gently, I might gain more friends and people would be more likely to listen. This is a false argument. It says more about my critics than about myself. If something is true, it is true, whether I speak softly or whether I speak in tough terms. (Indeed, on the 'bottom line' it is better to speak the Truth toughly than to speak lies softly!). If others reject the Truth simply because they perceive the bringer of the Truth not to be speaking in a way they prefer, then, respectfully, that is their problem. The speaker has done his job. It is up to them to hear the message and to obey it. How the speaker speaks is irrelevant when it comes to the Truth.
Indeed, it is interesting that I have been told to 'look past the manifestations' to seek the real nuggets in the 'Blessing' - but the same folk are not willing to 'look past the way of talking' to see what is being said! A dual standard is in operation and it prevents proper examination of the facts. Speaking gently when God prompts one to speak in tough terms, is to detract from Truth. The manner of speech is often as important as the content of the speech. In this case, the matter is urgent and soft words would go unheeded. Also, the spirit of discernment has determined the course I take. Taking the two points, combined, I have no choice but to speak as I do and to wait for the attacks.
Sixthly, how I speak in private is often nothing like my 'public persona'. This is not hypocrisy - it is just that I am led to approach matters in a different way at different times. Each time, though, what I say is 'me'. There are no hidden meanings, only open and honest statements. In private, I will spend as much time as it takes to sort out problems. I once spent over 20 years 'counselling' (a word used only for convenience) a person experiencing the ravages of a particularly nasty problem. This meant being 'on call' night and day - I was often woken up in the early hours of the morning, by a banging on my door! But that is Christian pastoral care! (The person eventually won through and all was well).
One Christian man, a pastor and preacher, was completely destroyed when he discovered his wife had been unfaithful. To make matters worse she moved out. I followed that grieving man from public house to public house, most of them unsavoury places. Sometimes I went in to ask him to come out, receiving a tirade of ridicule from himself and from his drinking partners. On one occasion he even threw a punch at me. Mostly, though, I waited outside all night until the places closed. Then I literally carried him, drunk and incapable, to my car, so that I could get him home. There I made sure he was alright and put him to bed.
Many times he tried to avoid me by going drinking in new places. I just visited each public house in turn, until I found him. It was very hard for me, because I did not want fellow Christians to see me walking in and out of drinking places! This went on for several years. Sadly, he never overcame his problem, but he knew I was there.
There have been many such incidents, where any help given is unknown and very costly. I will spend time and effort to talk with others, to pray for them, to help. The only reason I give these two examples is to advise that what one writes is NOT necessarily an indication of one's personality, or of one's whole approach. No-one knows the full extent of what I do or say, or the way I act. Nor will I discuss them, for they are between myself, the person I am helping and God.
Lastly, I know my own frame. I am a sinner saved by grace - just like my other Brethren. I have no particular axe to grind. The whole purpose of my ministry is to speak the Truth of God and, in so doing, help to build up the Church of Christ in knowledge and understanding. There is nothing to be personally proud of in this, for whatever is said is said because God wishes it to be said. It is theology in its truest sense - the outworking and application of God's declared word, the Bible.
I make no human gain in doing this. Indeed, humanly, I only lose! But that is not an issue, for I have long learned that to do what God requires is greater than to do what Man desires. It often brings ridicule and isolation and, to be frank about it, this does cause me to be swayed now and then. But, I am quickly brought back to the reality of spiritual life - that it is better to lose friends and what one has, than to be at the beck and call of men, no matter how genuine they may be. In my life I know only too well what my work means, for I have lost friends and almost everything I ever had.
Few can understand what it is like to walk through a town or a supermarket, knowing that Christians are likely to ignore them. I have witnessed Believers look embarrassed to see me; they try to walk the opposite way; if they cannot avoid me, they sheepishly look down and say that they must rush! One or two, including pastors, will look, but with eyes full of hate or pity. Some will even chat briefly, pretending to be interested in my welfare or my life, but their eyes cannot hide their true feelings and thoughts. Nowadays, it is I who feel pity for them, mingled with sadness.
(On a more amusing note – my wife and I were in the supermarket and saw a Christian couple heading toward us. The man is a minister. When they saw us, they suddenly turned tail and rushed back down another aisle with red, panic-stricken faces! Later, who should we bump in to but the wife! She turned bright red and quickly said “Oh, hello! How nice to see you both! Robert [his true name not given to protect the guilty!!] thought he saw you earlier, but he wasn’t sure!”
Robert had his back to us and tried to get away, but his hapless wife wanted to save face and called him. at first he ignored her, then he reluctantly turned around. Even before a greeting from us he quickly excused himself...”Sorry I didn’t come up to you earlier – I saw someone I knew and had to rush away to discuss church business.” Oh dear! It would have been better for his own heart-rate if he had just ignored us!).
It is said that many are 'praying' for me (for my repentance). I know that most of these folk do not even know me; they do not know what I have to say apart from what leaders have told them about me. I also know that the 'prayers' are meant to bring me toward their way of thinking and toward an acceptance of the 'Blessing'. This will come to nought if I am correct in my assertion.
If I am correct, then all these folk are praying wrongfully and their prayers are not of God! Obviously, if the Blessing is of God, then I stand to be corrected and chastened...but discernment does not pull me that way. The whole issue is gaining its own momentum and I have no option but to follow its path, as I believe I am commanded to do so by God. It is, if you like, a willing obedience, a yoke I must carry in spite of my human frailty.
I Haven't Attended a Meeting!
One lady asked how on earth I could possibly denounce the 'Blessing' from hearing 'just a snippet' about it from others. Indeed, a similar charge underpins the call for me to actually visit a meeting. But, as I have already pointed out, I do not have to experience murder to know that it is wrong. However, they say, if I do not attend a meeting, how can I be sure of my ground?
I first heard of this movement from one who had attended a conference in Brighton, England, earlier in 1994. (Before that I was given a report of a similar meeting back in 1991). At that time I expressed my concern. However, it was not until the same kind of experiences were being spoken of in my home city, that I had an 'instant' response in my soul. Perhaps my previous response was too unconcerned, or I was lazy. I do not know. But, how could I have such an instant response? Surely it was just a 'knee-jerk' reaction? Another possibility, said one pastor, is that I am simply "attacking fellow Believers" because of "all the hurt" I have suffered at the hands of local Christians in the past. Both could be true and they are reasonable suggestions. But they are not true.
Attacking Because Hurt?
Any hurt I felt in the past was justified, for most of my family were the object of severe, prolonged and horrific persecution by some who called themselves 'Brethren' and whose sphere of influence was far greater than was their numerical strength. This was made far worse by weak pastors, or by pastors who had no real idea what was happening. I will say no more on this, because even now I cannot speak of it, except rarely on a one-to-one basis.
However, soon after leaving the last local church I attended regularly, the Lord showed me, most forcefully from scripture, that He had taken us out from under bad pastors - we were not being forced out, but taken out! It was such a revelation, that we never again felt the hurt. However, that whole phase in our lives was just one factor behind the start-up of Bible Theology Ministries (BTM). It was as if the Lord was burning my bridges behind me.
It was not until we were completely freed of bondage to bad pastors and to false church situations, that the ministry was at all possible. Before that, my loyalty to 'the system' clouded my judgement. There is, then, no hurt. But there is a degree of cynicism. And rightly so. Again, I will say no more on that, because I do not wish to identify those I refer to.
Well, then, if my response was not due to hurt, was it a knee-jerk reaction? After all, I have not even attended a meeting. I find this point difficult to comprehend, for it suggests that, in effect, I have simply 'lashed out' spiritually, either not caring for the 'facts', or not bothering to ascertain them. Yet, the critics, of course, claim to be fully aware of their actions, which are, needless to say, 'Biblical'!
The charismatic pastor I referred to earlier, about four years ago, was involved in a job application I once made with his own company. This included my taking psychometric tests (i.e. psychological profiles). The result (as I expected) was that I was a well-balanced person. Thus it is peculiar to have him think that I am simply lashing out, whether as a knee-jerk reaction, or as an attack on others. I am well-balanced because of my faith! As we have noted at BTM before, one's 'faith' is always questioned when one dares to oppose a popular movement!
A Knee-Jerk Reaction?
My response to the 'Blessing' is certainly not 'knee-jerk'. (Indeed, such would be inconsistent with my public ministry, which advises Christians not to be reactionary, but to lead the way by stating scripture). In the past I have worked extensively amongst those whose problems were caused by demonic activities, or by faulty human emotions. Twenty years ago I wrote a 180,000 word manuscript on Christians and mental Illness. In that, I speak in some detail of the demonic role in extreme emotional situations. This work was used as a basis for a post-graduate thesis on psychotherapy and Christian 'counselling'. Thirty years of Bible study, preaching and teaching can be added to this. Whilst only an arrogant man would say that any of this 'proves' his case, these facts at least show that there is some thought behind my usual responses.
I also have a Biblical basis for my response. Whilst my critics claim to have a Biblical basis for what they are now doing and believing, their theology is not good enough (see relevant section below). My opposition to the 'Blessing' is not an attack on persons, but an attack on the spirit behind it, because I know it to be demonic.
Spirit of Discernment
But where did I get my first 'instant' response from? Let the following true account help me to explain....
Some years ago, I was driving home from a Sunday morning meeting. As I was about to turn into my street, a 'voice' startled me. I was startled because I was alone. The voice, clear and distinct, said "Go to..." (I will not identify the person). I thought it was just my imagination. Immediately, the same voice commanded me to go to the person's home. I slowed the car but carried on. The voice commanded me again: "Go to...NOW". I realised that this was the voice of God and hastily reversed up the street! (The voice was not audible in the usual sense - more of a 'loud thought'!).
As I turned the car and headed for the person's home, I asked out loud "But why, Lord?" The answer surprised and baffled me: "Ask...to go with you to church tonight." It baffled me because for the previous ten years, this person had not set foot inside a church. The person was a Christian, but had suffered as the result of certain problems and tragedies. For ten years, every single day (and often at night), I had gently and continuously helped the person, but there was no sign that the help was taking effect. So, the call by God was totally mystifying.
Indeed, as I discovered later, this was one mark of authenticity of the gifts of God - they are not rooted in our own talents or human means. In this case I would not have dreamt of doing what the Lord was telling me to do. Indeed, I was reluctant to comply. After all, I had given up asking the person to attend meetings about a year before!
As I got closer to the home, I argued (out loud) with God, saying that I had tried and tried, but to no avail. I was told, again clearly, that this time it would be different. All I had to do was to obey the command. Yet, I did not even know how to approach the subject or what to say.
Once again, God prompted. As soon as I entered the room, the person looked at me. I looked straight back and, without warning, I just beamed, ear to ear! A loving warmth overtook me completely and I moved toward the person. Putting my hand on her shoulder, I heard myself saying "You are coming tonight, aren't you?" Despite my previous human feelings and failures, I KNEW the answer would be the right one. "Yes" was the simple reply. I immediately walked out again, as if walking on a cloud! (I was fully in control of myself at all times). It was as simple as that. That night, after ten years, the person attended a meeting with me. From that time on, she gained in spiritual strength.
What happened was instant. It took me by surprise. I was simply a channel (Gk. 'conduit') and was unaware of what God was about to do. In no way was I unable to think or change my mind. There was a compulsion, but not a forcing of my thoughts and actions. Although the thoughts, at vital points, were not my own, I was fully aware of them and knew what I was doing. If I had so wished, I could have disobeyed them. In this case the result was instant and complete. There was no ambiguity.
I can repeat incidents like that. Thus it is that I made an 'instant' judgement on the present 'Blessing'. Apart from the act of discernment, which told me that the spirit behind the 'Blessing' is false, there were the years of dealing with the demonic and with human emotional extremes. However, it was the discernment that came first. This is probably important, for I did not have to argue about what I was given. Only after the discernment and judgement came the benefit of Biblical precepts, past experiences and rational thoughts. However - all strands were of an unified source, the Holy Spirit.
The 50:50 Probability
Now here comes the dividing line - those in the present movement will, without doubt, also claim to have discernment in the matter (which I refute). It thus comes down to one question - WHO is correct? It is a fact that only ONE of us is right. That means that only one of us has known true discernment in this matter. What is the probability of one being right and the other wrong?
On the face of it, I must be wrong, because I am virtually alone in my judgement! But numbers mean nothing, for the probability I am right (or wrong) is actually 50:50. That means the 'spiritual stakes' are higher than critics think they are. My discernment tells me the spirit behind the movement is false and nothing will shake me from that judgement. I am very aware of the penalties for abusing the gifts and activities of God and for attributing to Satan what belongs to God. The whole matter has been on my heart and mind continuously. Thus, here we have no 'knee-jerk' reaction, or anything as low as mere 'attack' based on hurt.
What About the Leaders?
What, then, do I think of the 'leaders' of this movement? I would distinguish the leaders at the source and those who subsequently joined them as a result of their work. The original leaders I see as the 'power house' of this movement (see later notes on Rodney Howard Browne, etc.). Others I see as those who have been 'infected' by them. I use this word because, significantly, the 'Blessing' is usually spread by human contact.
Local leaders, in the main, I accept to be sincere and devout men, whose desire is to have 'more of God' (although this desire is itself dubious). There is little question in my mind as to their intended integrity. However, just as king David relaxed for a short while and thus committed his most heinous of acts, so these good men have fallen by their own desires. What do I mean by that? I know of the teachings and beliefs of some of these men and cannot agree with them. Particularly as they affect the gifts, means of preaching and revival. I also know that, in certain cases, their desires are not matched by the way they treat fellow Believers, or what they think about them in their hearts.
This is why, when I knew some of them attended the earlier Marches for Jesus (with its clowns and other human devices), I was very cynical about their public show (and newspaper declaration) of "love for everybody in Swansea". Simply, it was not true. What was in their hearts, was something different to what they were proclaiming. Now, if I were to accept the 'advice' of many in this movement to "Look beyond the manifestations" I would ignore the outward show (of the marches), ignore the 'flawed' preaching and look toward the 'fruit'. But how could I, when I knew that their 'fruit' (love?) was not really there, because of their underlying attitude toward certain Brethren? And what fruit? (See Article ‘Fruit of the Spirit’).
Even so, I know, from my own heart and actions, that as Believers we are still human and retain our propensity for sin. I am as-one with my critics in that sense. Am I, then, saying that I am somehow superior in my current opposition? No, not in any way at all. I am saying that the discernment I have is in opposition to what is happening. Even the most holy of men can fall, just as king David did. It takes just a minor lapse to induce a rapidly deteriorating situation. What has happened in this case could easily happen to me. But, as we see in the Biblical teaching on such things, the one who is given light in a matter must pass it on to others. In turn, in another situation, someone else will come to the fore and do the same thing for me. It is up to the Brethren to accept such light from whoever God has given it to. In this situation, there is a widespread error, based on strong desires.
A Previous Prophecy
Until this moment I have hesitated to refer to the following note as 'prophecy', because of the reaction of some. However, this is wrong of me. I know it is prophecy, therefore I must refer to it as such and not pay deference to my Calvinistic past!
I said, about six years ago, that, in a short while, the churches would soon divide. A small number of faithful Believers would be opposed by the majority, who are also Believers, but who follow a lie. Thus, Christians would polarise. The ecumenical movement plus an acceptance of anything charismatic is a major key to it all. The Christian majority will even stand with unbelievers in their opposition to the faithful. This prophecy is beginning to come about*. (This prophecy is repeated in the Article 'Charismaticism').
Charismaticised churches, however, claim that the opposite is happening and that churches are growing together in strength, Truth and witness. Only one claim can be true. That makes any other prophecy a lie. (See scripture for the penalty paid by false prophets!).
(*Note: December 2000: This division actually occurred during the awful period of the Toronto Blessing).
Why Go Public?
I am told that the 'biggest problem' was that I 'went public'. Instead, I should have discussed the issue with the 'leaders'. I have a very simple question to ask - "WHY?"
In the past, no-one wanted to know me, what I stood for, or what I said. Many played the common 'pastoral' game of silence - when I spoke, others would just shut up and hope that everything would then blow over! They still play the same game. It is thought that such non-activity is wise and Godly. Now, suddenly, I 'must talk' with these same people - but only because it suits them and because what I say affects what they do. The reader must forgive my cynicism, which is again showing.
Suppose that I did meet them. What would happen? I know what would happen! It would be like those TV panel chat shows, where everyone says something but there is no conclusion. (In effect all views are thought to be valid and equal, even if they are opposite or ludicrous). I will be allowed to speak, but no-one would really listen. They would certainly not be prepared to consider themselves to be, possibly, wrong. I know this to be true, because I have come across such situations time and again. The whole reason for wanting to meet me is for me to change my mind - or to shut up. Are they honest enough to admit to that? Or do they know so little about their own hearts and group dynamics?
I see no reason why I should not have gone public. As I have been given no other avenue of expression of God's word in the past, the public arena was the only one left to me. Even if I had sent a personal letter to each 'leader', it would have been either ignored or put into the 'unbelieving' category. It would certainly NOT have been put before the thousands who have, by now, attended meetings. But, a public letter was able to circumvent the human barriers. So, I have no problem with 'going public'. Neither did Jesus Christ, Paul, John the Baptist, or the prophets, to name just a few!
I cannot accept the idea of 'leaders' in the Church, although they are common, especially in charismatic-type churches. There appear to be 'leaders' for everything!
To me, the suggestion that these meetings are, or should be, in the 'hands of leaders', is suspect. Do they mean pastors? It does not seem to mean this, at least not necessarily or specifically. What is a 'leader'? I cannot justify the term from scripture for local church use. Even a pastor is not a 'leader' - he is the servant of all and is a sub-shepherd of Jesus Christ, delegated to the position, but not taking it for himself. In the Body of Christ, there are no leaders, only disciples. Each Christian is given his own gifts (he cannot choose what he wants and ask for them!) by God, as He sees fit. There are 'offices' but not 'officers'. One refers to the task given and the other to a title or rank – even though, in the Church, there is no rank. Yet, charismaticism has many layers of 'ranks', each demanding total obedience.
Even a pastor who is given 'double honour' has no rank! As a pastor, I have no title or rank; my place is as an equal amongst equals. If my equal is lowly, then I, too, am lowly. I have no right or authority to impose my will upon anyone, not even upon those in the flock I have been given - for the flock is not mine. Nor am I its leader, or its manager. At times, I must take a back seat and others will carry on a task. This does not mean that I 'allow' it to happen, or that I give my consent - such would be full of pride! Who am I to 'give consent' to what God is calling someone else to do?
My role is defined in scripture and I have no business stepping over its boundaries, into the field of service God has given to another. I do not even have to 'preside' at every meeting. Nor do I have to impress my 'authority' upon others. No - any authority I may have is only that which is given in scripture. And there is no authority to be a 'leader'. To be called a 'leader' says a lot about the one leading! To be a 'leader' automatically means that everyone else must follow. That places the 'leader' in a position of rank. But, in the true Church, there is no hierarchy or ranking system! It is pointless for 'leaders' to claim that the above argument is false, for it is logical and built on observation. And all those things I have said are not Biblical are found, in force, in charismatic-type churches.
Although all this is common in charismatic-type churches, the same kind of 'leader-follower' syndrome applies throughout the churches. For example, 'only a pastor may lead communion', or a variation is 'a deacon, if a pastor is not available'! (This shows that the 'leaders' do not understand the difference between a deacon and a pastor). In most churches, the pastor must have overall control over all meetings. One absurd fact is that the pastor's wife is usually president over all women's meetings - thereby assuming that she has been gifted exactly like her husband, or that her husband's spirituality somehow 'covers' her own activities. There are many more traditional activities and roles not found in scripture. Charismaticism has invented a huge number of them!
If we look at the present movement, it is definitely 'led' by 'leaders'! Yet, the same leaders wish to claim that it is of the Holy Spirit. If it is wholly of God - why have human 'leaders' whose titles and roles are not found in scripture?
The Human Link
I must once again point to a highly significant fact - that the 'Blessing' is passed on to others solely by human beings. From Benny Hinn and Rodney Howard Browne (in particular) it was passed on to a visitor from Toronto. He passed it on to the Toronto church at the end of the airport runway, which eventually became known as the 'centre' of the movement. Visitors to that church took back the 'Blessing', rather like a tourist gift, to their own churches. And thus the 'Blessing' spread. This kind of 'passing on' of spiritual benefits is common amongst spiritualists and other occult/cult members.
None of this compares with what God does. Since the inception of the 'Blessing' its leaders have shrewdly denied their own early claim - that it is a 'revival'...a very odd thing to admit, when it is God who is supposedly leading them! As I have shown in the example above of God's grace toward another, when He acts and commands the situation is unique and incapable of dubious or ambiguous interpretation. Even if Satan attempts to mimic what is going on, what he does is nothing like the real thing. Satan can certainly counterfeit, but when placed against the Truth the counterfeit is obvious and pathetic. So, if 'leaders' cannot tell the difference, their claimed spiritual discernment is in question. Any movement of God is magnificent in its breadth and depth. But the present movement is, well, tacky and littered with obvious errors.
At meetings, human beings, not God, encourage emotional scenes. (I was highly amused by one RHB meeting - he assured everyone, several times, that they did not use hype, but everything he did was hype!!). They build up expectations. If it is all of God, why cannot these men just sit back in silence and allow the Spirit to act Himself? Why is there a need for 'leaders' to hold out their hands or call people to the front? Why have people ready to catch others who will inevitably fall down? Why is the whole thing exclusively a charismatic-type occurrence? Why, too, are the same effects (not mimics) experienced by cult members (such as Roman Catholics) and by unbelievers, if it is all of God?
Some of the Errors
Let us now come to the manifestations, before we talk about the claimed 'fruit'. We will find that every manifestation is an error. How can this be? I suggest that many folk have been praying for revival. Some even meet for ‘revival' prayer early in the morning. (This is revivalism, a zeal inconsistent with scripture). Others, not necessarily the same type of people, pray for the gifts and claim to practise them. (Whether they have the gifts, or not, is open to serious question).
Thus, a large proportion of people in the churches (and not all of them are Believers), already expect something to happen. When it does, then, they are already 'primed' emotionally. Thus, emotions take the place of a true spiritual response. In this way, they 'feel' it is all of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, many say that this is not revival, but is a movement of God to get them ready for revival, to 'soften them up'!
I have read and heard reports of the spread of the 'Blessing' in churches. Not one single report questions whether or not it is of God. Not one! Yet, scripture warns and instructs us to examine the spirits to see whether they are of God. The 'Blessing' is automatically assumed to be of the Holy Spirit. This is especially so with RHB and the original leaders. As is often the case in any mass movement, the 'IF - THEN' argument prevails. Because the originators made a claim (based on theory), everything that follows is treated as genuine. (I have shown the folly and disrepute of such acceptance in the scientific field, re MA thesis). In other words:
"IF (what the originators say is true) THEN (everything else must also be true)".
All who thus 'follow the leader' make the fatal assumption that the leaders are genuine and that their claims are genuine. They have not examined the thing themselves. In such a situation, the THEN principle quickly takes over and becomes authority. Everything else is subsequently built upon the secondary THEN principle, as the IF principle is buried under time and derived activities.
Therefore, I am saying that the whole basis for belief that the 'Blessing' is genuine is a belief that the original 'Blessing' is genuine! This is by no means the case and there is no proof that it is. In fact, common sense and Christian conscience should point in the opposite direction, given the absurdity of what is going on, even if actual spiritual discernment is completely lacking.
I would suggest that discernment is not fully lacking at all, but is being subjected to deception techniques used by Satan. Many who are uneasy are being duped into accepting 'part' of the movement as genuine and the 'other' parts as being suspect (but which parts? How do they decide?). Some may be 'sitting on the fence' (very common in churches, due to peer pressure), but others KNOW the 'Blessing' is false! God is telling them so. There is nothing wrong with their gift of discernment. The problem is with their response, which is being hindered by the sheer volume or force of the movement. They are being 'steamrollered' by the supposed 'fruit' of this 'Blessing'.
Let us now consider the manifestations which, according to the leaders, we are supposed to ignore or look past. At the same time, Peter Nodding of Millmead Centre, Guildford, UK, an English leader of this 'Blessing', says in a leading charismatic magazine that the manifestations "are the main features"!* Yet, we are being asked to ignore the main features. What a strange combination of requests.
(* A year later, leaders are now insisting that the manifestations are NOT the 'main feature'. They have turned-tail because they perceive hostility toward such a notion. Now they insist that the 'fruit' are the main feature - when the fruit are also shown to be false, they will again turn-tail. Watch, wait and see!!).
Said to be common when the Holy Spirit is at work. This is perfectly true and the only feature that corresponds in any way with Biblical evidence. Note, however, that ANY release of tension or anxiety, whether psychological or physical, can have the same result. This is worth bearing in mind when considering a false movement of God. That is, tears are not, in themselves, proof of anything in particular. After all, people cry when watching films! Furthermore, mere crying can have a huge range of possible causes - including the 'copying' of others crying. In a psychiatric setting, crying is very common. So common in fact, that I, like many others in the profession, would be unmoved by them. Often, crying is only a release mechanism - which does not necessarily have a genuine or a reasonable use. On many occasions, it is a manipulative tool and Satan will use any method to convince others.
Also called 'holy joy'. But where do we find the equivalent in scripture? This laughter is said to be the 'joy of the Lord'...but WHO SAYS SO? This is just the interpretation of one or two men. Who can verify its legitimacy? No-one. Another non-starter which cannot be verified is "It is the way in which God shares his own joy with us". I would respectfully remind the person who is saying all this that the 'laughter' we are referring to here is raucous, loud, uncontrollable, maniacal, and even 'witch-like cackling'! Is he seriously suggesting that this is Almighty God 'sharing His joy' with us? Can we 'share' God's own magnificence? Cannot God control Himself? Does He laugh like a witch? Does He laugh at His own sombre scriptures? To put it in straight language - COME OFF IT!
There is no scriptural verification for the assertion that such laughter is God sharing His own joy with us. None whatsoever. Rather, it is another example of 'spiritualising' (self-interpretation and 'flowering' of events). The joy of the Lord has nothing at all, primarily, to do with laughing. I can understand the laughter of a happiness that is bound by sanity, but not the kind that one would expect from demons, or from unfettered, emotional self-indulgence.
Another statement about this 'holy joy' is that "It brings us closer to the Lord, and is spiritually therapeutic." Now, that is a great piece of meaningless wordage! What does the writer mean by 'closer to the Lord'? How can he prove it? How do we actually get closer to God? By laughing maniacally? And in which way is it 'spiritually therapeutic'? Does the term and the idea have any real meaning at all? No, it does not. It is more-or-less borrowed from psychiatry, which is itself a minefield of suspect theories! Scripture does not tell us that to get closer to God all we need to do is laugh our heads off. No, sorrow, repentance and faith are closer to the mark. So is 'running the race', which involves a lot of hard work and determination.
"The laughter comes and goes as the Lord releases waves of His Spirit." Another piece of nonsense! How does the man know God releases 'waves' of His Spirit and that laughter coincides with it? How does He know God is behind it at all? He assumes, from the very start, that the 'Blessing' is of God. To assume something is of God, without examination, is to become easy prey for the agents of error. The idea that God 'releases' the Holy Spirit in 'waves' is to suggest that God is playing games and is pressing various buttons on a control panel to excite us!
Holy joy? Never! This laughter is not of God. It is not a sign of 'joy' spilling over, but is a sign of Satan's envoys laughing in derision at the Lord. God would not laugh at Himself or at His scripture; He would certainly not allow such laughter to interrupt the solemn recitation of His Holy word; laughter is certainly part of our human make-up, but this 'Blessing' laughter is totally out of place and is manic-like. Charismatics completely misunderstand what 'joy' really is, such is their theological ignorance and lack of scriptural perception.
I have heard RHB incite
laughter, using what sound like invocations to demons. The invocations
are deliberate and repeated. This is not just my imagination, as one
researcher can confirm. She
has shown, convincingly, that the words used, such as 'Ho' and 'Ha' are
actual names given to demonic angels by certain occultists. An
ex-charismatic confirms that other charismatic leaders use exactly
the same words, as they sternly jab a finger in the person's direction!
We are told that shaking before God is "not new". In evidence, Mr Nodding refers to the Shakers: "Quakers were the Shakers...they were called Shakers because of the way they shook before the Lord." Okay, let us hold it there. He is right to say that the Quakers were once called 'Shakers' - but there his knowledge seems to dry up. In their early days, many Quakers did shake excessively in their meetings, but it was not of God.
Mr Nodding should also state what else happened (maybe he did not read this bit!)! These Shakers became extremely violent and abusive in their shaking. Many times they were brought before magistrates and placed into prisons for their acts of sheer, wanton violence. After many had thus fallen foul of the law, the whole group began to get its act together and left shaking alone. Now, is not that a very strange thing to do, if such shaking was of God? Is not the shaking highly suspect, if it made men violent and landed them in prison? And if such behaviour brought anger and derision from the crowds? The shaking, then, is not given by God. Some attempt to say that it is akin to the Biblical 'trembling' before the Lord. What loose and unbiblical interpretations are being thrown about! One need not actually, physically 'tremble' to tremble in the Biblical sense, although it can mean that. But to equate the milder 'trembling' with violent, mindless, and purposeless shaking is not permissible in any sense.
(Note that Quakerism is not part of the Christian Church anyway. Mr Nodding has some strange bed-fellows! See our Article and book on 'Quakers').
Weight of the Spirit
Should I laugh in derision, or cry from pity at this one? The so-called 'weight of the Spirit' is yet another invention of the imagination! It is, supposedly, the 'power of the Spirit coming upon us' - an incredible equation. The power is so great that it has a 'weight' causing us to sit or even lay down. Here I permit myself a smile, but not a smile of amusement. Once again, I ask the question - are these folk being serious? This smacks of the favourite intellectual toy of the Middle Ages: "How many angels can you get on top of a pin-head?". The question is not so stupid as it at first appears, for it is based on the whole theology of the spiritual world. But, the question was popular for centuries. It was an example of discussing the useless to the point of omitting more useful Biblical subjects.
Anyone who has a smattering of understanding would ever say that God's Spirit had 'weight'! Where do adherents get this idea from? It is certainly not found in scripture. (The idea is probably based in the teaching of Word of Faith leaders who claim that God has the same weight as, and a similar body to, humans). They are ascribing to God an invented term and idea. The suggestion that this 'weight' is exactly the same as the 'strong hand of the Lord' (mentioned by Ezekiel, for example) is simply absurd and does not carry Biblical or theological logic. As usual, this is charismatic interpretational 'creativity' (that is, nonsense and guesswork dressed as theology).
It is said that if a person feels such a weight, but resists it and remains standing, then he "comes out of what the Spirit is doing"! (A journalist witnessed a group of people standing over a woman, refusing to allow her to stand up: The Guardian, 26th Sept. 1994). The more I hear such folk speaking, the more incredible become their statements. There is no scriptural evidence whatever for these claims. The claims are fabrications used to 'explain' phenomena that cannot be reconciled to scripture - this is why one cannot find Biblical evidences! Why else should people coin their own phrases, terms and interpretations? They are, then, 'adding to scripture' and thus offending the warnings in the Book of Revelation. This may not be the intention, but it is certainly the result.
Heavy Breathing, Sometimes with Bodily Movements
Here is yet another unsubstantiated claim. These two manifestations (forms of hysteria) are said to "give a sense of the love and acceptance of God." (Very similar to occult auto-suggestion and hysteria). This is but a short step away from saying that those who do NOT experience the same things do not have the love or acceptance of God! But, even so, how on earth can heavy breathing accompanied by twitching, etc., be a proof of God's love and acceptance? There is no connection whatever! And, once again, where are the scriptural evidences? There are none. Why am I insisting on scriptural evidences? Because, without such, we have only the word of mortal men, men who (obviously in this case) can believe and lead others in error. (See later notes on a charismatic book on the subject). Without the solid foundation of God's declared Truth, we have only the shifting sands of opinion.
The acceptance of God is bestowed only upon those who live sanctified lives; those who DO run the race and continue steadfastly in faith. It is certainly not given in the form of heavy breathing and twitching to people whose previous 'track-record' spiritually has been next to nil! Indeed, all of these 'main features' of the 'Blessing' are found in spiritualistic/occult circles and in psychiatric disturbances.
Like Leads to Like
It is a tried principle - that like leads to like. Or, the fruit grow from the root and display its characteristics. Now, if the men who 'lead' this strange 'Blessing' have a peculiar and unbiblical interpretation of the 'main features' of the movement - then their interpretation of the 'fruit' will also be suspect. If they cannot tell the difference between what is demonic or human and what is of God, and if they cannot interpret correctly what God's own word says - how can they suddenly interpret any other aspect of the movement correctly? This is a more than reasonable question!
Contextual and Universal Validity
If like leads to like and the fruit of any root must be in harmony with the root's own type, it follows that if something is of God, it will be in complete harmony with everything we know of God and His precepts. (See 'Charismaticism')
Let us take the issue of 'tongues' as an example - mainly because 'tongues', although called the least of the gifts in the Bible, is constantly promoted as being the greater within charismatic circles.
A clinical psychologist (that is, one who works in psychiatry) wrote an article in New Covenant magazine. He spoke of his 'experience of the Holy Spirit'. (It is typical of charismatics that even when it comes to the simplest of matters, their thoughts are highly structured 'charismatically' and are quite rigid - which does not fit the charismatic claim to be flexible). A strangely complex and detailed theology has been built around the charismatic view of tongues, which is so beyond the scope and Biblical definition of the gift itself, that the theology has become a projection of charismatics' desires rather than a progression of real Biblical exposition. To put it another way, the theology of any Biblical topic should 'naturally' flow from the subject matter itself. It can do this only if one allows scripture to interpret itself and any thoughts are bound by this God-given limit. Anything else is mere speculation and opinion.
What is a tongue? It is something very simple - a foreign language. For the life of me, I cannot see how a whole theology can be built upon that fact! A foreign language is a foreign language. Nothing more needs to be said. How can that be a gift and when can it be used? Like any gift of God, it is freely given, but is to be used only when God prompts the person to use it. Not everybody has the gift of tongues and that is made clear in scripture. Yet, charismatics encourage everyone to speak in supposed 'tongues'! When God wishes us to use any spiritual gift, His prompting to do so is perfect and obvious - yet charismatics claim to use gifts at any time they wish. When should a tongue - a foreign language - be used? Rarely, I would suggest! It means that the person with a tongue will one day be faced with a foreigner and neither of them can understand the national language of the other.
For a reason known only to God, He will prompt the gift-bearer to suddenly speak the Gospel in the foreigner's own language. This will have immediate effect, because no word from God is ineffective. Once said, the gift-bearer will acknowledge that although he has spoken fluently in a foreign language, he has not understood one word of it! It is possible that he may never again use that language, or rarely. At any rate, he cannot control use of the gift - scripture refers to us as 'conduits' for God's actions, as He works through us. Yet, charismatics claim to be able to speak in tongues any time they wish, even in private (all gifts are for the benefit of the whole Church, so this would be a misuse of a gift anyway). Thus, the charismatic definition and use of 'tongues' is totally unbiblical. (See 'Tongues').
Now, the Bible states that a tongue is a 'foreign language' (Gk). Charismatics, though, against scripture, see it as an ecstatic utterance (*see the old Hebrew observation below!) which is understood only by God. (Very convenient!). As such it cannot be verified as authentic or even challenged. The same applies to those who claim to be able to 'interpret' these utterances. Others have to simply accept whatever they say. All of this is alien to the principle of testing the spirits and examination of everything to see that it corresponds to true doctrine. Given that charismatics have these views, it is no wonder that they have been able to write their own theology of tongues!
(*Old Hebrew observation of ecstatic utterances: "To speak in a tongue (i.e. supposedly 'heavenly') is the gift of men, who, rapt in ecstasy and no longer quite masters of their own reason and consciousness, pour forth their glowing spiritual emotions in strange utterances, rugged, dark, disconnected, quite unfit to instruct or to influence the minds of others." )
There we have the problem. It is a fact that one can be wholly truthful within the sphere of his own thoughts, and systematic, but when those thoughts are tested against the wider field, they fall flat on their face. This is the difference between Contextual Validity and Universal Validity. Cults have their own theology and to cult members it all makes sense. They can even live lives based on their brand of thought system - but only so long as they remain within their own sphere of thought. This is probably why some cults insist on communal living.
Once their thoughts are transferred into the wider world, there is immediate and continuous war between what is real and what has been taught. There is no resonance at all. I know of many paranoid schizophrenics who have built up seemingly faultless thought systems. So much so that others believe them and think they speak the truth. However, press the right trigger and the whole system falls apart, probably leading to violence and panic and a release of the garbage that actually underlies the thought system. But until that point is reached, the person appears to make sense.
In the same way, Christians can build a whole theological theory around a particular teaching. It can appear to be sound, if one relies only on the boundary set by the theory itself. One can live a lifetime believing it and putting it into action. This is because there is Contextual Validity - it all makes sense within its own context. However, as soon as it is tested against the wider facts (that is, Biblical writ, properly interpreted) it collapses. This means that their views have no Universal Validity. They are mere opinions without substance.
In the case of tongues, then, charismatics can believe whatever they wish; they can tell of wonderful experiences; they can have a complex theology - but it is valid only within the context of their own world-view. When it is in contact with the greater view of Universal Validity (i.e. scripture) it collapses, proving that it is opinion and there is no resonance with Biblical fact.
The psychologist mentioned above referred to the following 'benefits' of speaking in tongues. Note that he 'mixes' tongues with general acts of the Spirit, and a smattering of psychology:
He makes no attempt to distinguish the general work of the Holy Spirit and tongues, which is just one gift of many. If you read the statements carefully, you will discover that none of them can be supported by scripture, or they are not accurate in their observations. The reason is that the man bases his statements on charismatic beliefs, which all charismatics assume to be true (even though they do not stand up to scriptural verification rules). Therefore, he makes a second assumption - that if he founds his observations and interpretations on those primary assumptions, then his own statements 'must' be legitimate. Once again, we have the classic 'IF - BUT' situation! Let me give just a brief explanation, referring to each statement in order:
In Part 2, we shall look at the matter of 'fruit' (also read Article 'Fruit of the Spirit'). It is claimed that we must look past the various manifestations toward the fruit, which 'Blessing' leaders perceive to be of God. Let the argument in Part 2 be put forward for consideration against this notion.
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