PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 19, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
similar to one in Toronto
People frequently compare the
Pensacola Brownsville Revival to the
Both draw thousands of people from around the
Both have been in existence for some time
Brownsville's revival started in June 1995 and
Toronto's in January 1994.
Both promise an emotional and physical
encounter with God.
Both regard dramatically uncontrollable
behavior as evidence of salvation and the
presence of the Holy Spirit.
A number of people who question the methods
and theological fundamentals of the Brownsville
Revival see indications that it was planned and
modeled after what is going on in Toronto.
The Toronto revival occurs at the Airport
Vineyard Church, an independent charismatic
church near Toronto's Pearson International
Airport. John Arnott is the pastor and
The Toronto Blessing traces its origin to the
signs and wonders philosophy of John Wimber,
founder of the Vineyard faith, and to evangelist
Rodney Howard-Browne, the exponent of the
"holy laughter" concept.
"Vineyard philosophy holds to a sound
Christology but is steeped in psychology, inner
healing, visualization, deliverance and
occult-like experimental practices," said
Albert James Dager. He heads an independent,
nonprofit and nondenominational Christian
watchdog organization based in Redmond, Wash.
that analyzes Christian messages in the media.
The Toronto Blessing is known for behavior so
bizarre it appalls even people whose worship
normally encompasses the manifestations of
talking in tongues and falling down under the
power of God being slain in the spirit.
In Toronto, behaviors that are called
manifestations include: uncontrolled laughter,
roaring like lions, crawling on all fours and
barking like dogs, and flapping arms like eagles.
"In Toronto, any manifestation is allowed
to occur at any time," Dager said.
"Whether during worship time, sermons,
prayer or whatever might be taking place, if
someone begins to exhibit laughter, barking,
roaring, or other manifestations, it is allowed.
"At Brownsville Assembly of God there is
at least a semblance of order in that the
manifestations occur at the time of 'impartation'
the laying on of hands by either Steve Hill, John
Kilpatrick or other members of the prayer
The prominence that the Toronto church gives
the manifestations prompted its dismissal in 1995
from its denomination the Association of Vineyard
Churches. The Toronto church has changed its name
to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.
Toronto Blessing advocates say the
manifestations are caused by the presence of the
Critics say that mass-producing physical
responses, at the instruction of a preacher, puts
man more in control than God.
Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian
Research Institute in Southern California,
describes the Toronto Blessing as an
"extremely dangerous road to the
When news of the strange goings-on in Toronto
began to spread, people from across North America
and abroad flocked to that church.
Many took the news of their exciting
experience back to their churches, including Holy
Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church in London
that is now drawing thousands and promoting
manifestations on a scale equal to the Toronto
and Brownsville revivals.
But the Brownsville Revival leaders Kilpatrick
and Hill have consistently denied that their
revival is a by-product of the Toronto Blessing.
Critics of both, however, say that
Brownsville's roots are found deep in the Toronto
"The basic idea behind impartation is
that the anointing of the Holy Spirit is
transferable," Hanegraaff said.
"Therefore, through touch, people believe it
can be imparted from one person to another a sort
of 'Have Holy Spirit, Will Travel.'''
Hanegraaff is author of "Christianity in
Crisis," which won the Gold Medallion for
excellence in Evangelical Christian Literature,
and "Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in
All the Wrong Places."
Hill, who does most of the impartations at the
Brownsville Revival, received the Toronto
Blessing impartation through a touch at Holy
Holy Trinity Brompton was the center in the
United Kingdom for the spreading of the Toronto
Blessing the pastor there having also received
that impartation while attending the Toronto
Airport Vineyard Church.
And followers of one of the Toronto Blessing's
most colorful figures, Rodney Howard-Browne,
visited Brownsville before revival began there.
Howard-Browne is a South African evangelist who
calls himself the "Holy Ghost
The Brownsville leaders are now taking the
impartations on the road around the nation. Last
year, Kilpatrick solicited donations from
churches around the country to pay for a $310,000
motor coach in which he travels.
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