PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 19, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
Revival is not of God'
Pensacola's Brownsville Revival
not only has drawn more than a million people
over the last 2 1/2 years, it also has attracted
the scrutiny of many Bible scholars and
They all say they hoped to find that the
Brownsville Revival was a genuine move of God
indeed, many people who have attended the revival
have said they felt touched by the Holy Spirit
A number of theologians who understand and do
not denounce the Pentecostal movement have
concluded that the revival is not a move of God.
Worse, the revival is actually pulling people
away from God, they say.
"Too much emphasis is being placed on the
experiences and the positive testimonies, to the
point where the negative effects are largely
ignored," said Albert James Dager, who heads
Media Spotlight, a nondenominational Christian
watchdog organization based in Redmond, Wash.
Dager's 20-year-old, nonprofit, independent
Media Spotlight analyzes, from a Biblical
perspective, the Christian messages that appear
in the media. University religion departments,
Bible scholars, theologians and some 5,000
pastors of many denominations subscribe to the
Media Spotlight newsletter.
The Brownsville Revival, which airs three
times a week on regional television and sells
thousands of videos, attracted Dager's scrutiny,
and he spent months studying the revival's
methodology and messages.
The Bible as a guide
Dager measures religious messages and
movements against the Bible.
"There are various philosophies out
there, so we ask: 'Does it line up with the word
of God or not?''' he said. "Our purpose is
to help Christians."
Matt Costella, a theologian who is working
toward a master's degree at Faith Baptist
Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, has done a
study of the revival. He published his findings
in an article, "The Brownsville/Pensacola
Outpouring: Revival or Pandemonium?" in the
March/April 1997 issue of Foundation magazine,
which is published by the Fundamental
Evangelistic Association in Los Osos, Calif.
"I have completely concluded, as have
many people, that the Brownsville Revival is not
of God," Costella said.
"Nowhere in the Bible the Bible being our
Christian standard of faith and practice does God
teach any of these things that are going on at
Brownsville as part of what should be happening
in today's church."
Hank Hanegraaff, president of the Christian
Research Institute and author of
"Christianity in Crisis" and
"Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in All
the Wrong Places," has analyzed many
revivals, past and present. CRI is an educational
foundation and ministry in Southern California
dedicated to monitoring cults, occult activities
and Christian movements.
From faith to feelings
Hanegraaff expressed doubts and concerns about
the Brownsville Revival on his nationally
syndicated radio show "Bible Answer
Man"; in "Counterfeit Revival,"
published this year; and on a CNN "Larry
King Live" broadcast in April.
He views the Brownsville Revival as part of a
dangerous "paradigm shift of major
proportions a shift from faith to feelings, from
fact to fantasy, and from reason to esoteric
Hanegraaff said the Brownsville Revival is
"sociopsychological manipulation, peer
pressure and exploitation of expectations."
The Rev. Tom Stipe, one of the founders of
Promise Keepers and author of the forward to
"Counterfeit Revival," has found
serious problems scripturally and theologically
with evangelist Steve Hill's heavy use of sexual
admonitions frequent references to masturbation
and pornography and sexual imagery in his
references to Jesus Christ.
Often when Hill talks about Christ on the
cross, he uses these terms:
"With his genitals hanging out for all to
"With his sexual organs on
And Hill often speaks about Jesus being
tempted by women and sex.
"My experience, in 25 years of ministry,
has been that when men bring that strong of a
sexual imagery, a sexual agenda into their
sermon, it is for a shock effect," said
Stipe, pastor of the 6,000-member independent
Crossroads Church in Denver.
The analysts fault four aspects of the
revival: Sexual content in the messages, misuse
of Scripture, manifestations and impartation.
Stipe said to especially take notice,
scripturally and theologically, when Hill talks
about Jesus being tempted sexually.
"That is getting close to
blasphemy," he said.
Stipe refers to Hill's references to a woman
washing Jesus' feet and the constant sexual
temptations Christ faced.
"Where in Scripture does it say that
Jesus had every opportunity to have sex with
women? What Steve Hill is doing is putting a
sexual twist on a worship event," Stipe
"When Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus
of Bethany) washed His feet, it was an act of
worship on her part it had nothing to do with
sensuality. At this particular point, this was
her recognition of understanding that He was
Christ, the son of God.
"It is completely inappropriate to
superimpose a sexual agenda on Mary's part let
alone a sexual response on Jesus' part. That is
When Hill tells the revival-goers that
"Jesus faced every temptation you have"
he is again "superimposing a sexual agenda
over a text where there is virtually no evidence
of that," Stipe said. "Hill is
referring to Luke 4 but the devil never offered
sexual liberties or sexual power to Christ."
Stipe added: "If I were Steve Hill's
leader, I would sit down and ask him some tough
"I would encourage him to not pursue that
pattern. It's unhealthy, and it is ridiculous for
him to try to superimpose that kind of daily lust
problem or frequent lust problem in the life of
Misuse of Scripture
There is preaching at Brownsville Revival, but
the Word of God is being distorted, the
theologians and scholars all said.
"You end up with a lot of faulty
interpretations of Scripture and a lot of
disjointed and irrational thinking,"
Hanegraaff said after viewing many videotapes of
He has noticed that the revival leaders often
defend faulty logic and use of Scripture by
saying: "God offends the mind to reveal the
That means that the leaders expect people to
swallow what they say, uncritically, and that,
Hanegraaff said, is the equivalent of saying:
"Don't test to see if this is biblically
correct, just accept it. It is happening in
church so, of course, it must be of God."
Costella said people need to pay closer
attention to the revival's messages and
messengers and note when they err.
Brownsville Pastor John "Kilpatrick keeps
saying 'I don't know ... I think it was the
spirit of God.'
"This does not make sense on a logical
level, let alone a theological level. Kilpatrick
says we have pandemonium in the church, and that
it is of God. But God is not the author of
The danger, Costella said, is that "as
long as people are longing to see this, as long
as they are being blinded and deceived, Satan is
very willing to show them this pandemonium."
Concerned about the Brownsville Revival's
leaders and followers, Dager has specific advice:
- "Preach the word of God, and do not
focus so much attention on the revival
- "Do not practice impartation. If
someone falls under the anointing through
the preaching of the Word, accept and
rejoice, but do not think that God has
instituted some new ritual for imparting
- Pentecostals should return to the
historical Pentecostal tradition.
"Stop justifying bizarre behavior on
the basis that it occurred under Wesley
and stop attributing it to the Holy
Spirit. Wesley attributed it to the
devil. You can't have it both ways."
Dager said many people are making a
devastating mistake at the revival because they
are putting their trust only in men and
"We should put our trust in the
Lord," he said.
"We need to have a relationship with God
and His Word then we will notice error and be
able to differentiate between what is right and
The revival promises an emotional encounter
with God, manifested by shaking, screaming,
fainting and falling into trances.
The experience is called "being slain in
the spirit." The revival leaders tell the
audience that this is physical manifestation, or
proof, that the Holy Spirit has entered a body,
slain the sin within and taken possession.
The manifestations, which some describe as
heady and exhilarating, are also called
"being drunk in the spirit."
The Brownsville Revival claims to have a
franchise from God.
People are being told "the Holy Spirit
has landed there and you can go down there and
get drunk in the spirit," Hanegraaff said.
"People are going for an
But eventually, many revival enthusiasts
become disillusioned, Hanegraaff said.
They begin to suspect that the manifestations
are not real, and that makes them suspect that
the leaders who promote the manifestations are
untrustworthy. It is then a small step from
doubting the leaders to doubting God, according
For those who don't know who to trust,
Hanegraaff had advice: Return to the Bible.
"John the Apostle warned: 'Dear friends,
do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits
to see whether they are from God, because many
false prophets have gone out into the world.'
This is especially true today.
"The real experience is not found in the
works of the flesh, rather it is found in the
basic fundamentals," Hanegraaff said.
"We must rediscover the genuine worship
of God, we must rededicate ourselves to the
oneness we share with Christ, and we must
recommit ourselves to witness by the power of the
Costella, too, views the extreme
manifestations as a diversion away from God.
"People are genuinely hungry spiritually,
but people are being fooled because they are
looking for outward displays and not turning to
God's word for salvation," he said.
"The bottom line is people are saying
they are doing all these works in the name of
God, but, because it does not square with God's
word, God is going to say: 'Depart from me.'
The idea behind impartation is that the Holy
Spirit can be transferred through touch or
"anointing" from one person to another.
But there is no precedent in Scripture for
impartation the laying on of hands
indiscriminately for the expressed purpose of
transferring power or to receive the Holy Spirit,
according to Dager.
The revival leaders call it "a new work
of God that is different from baptism in the Holy
Spirit," Dager said.
The problem, he said, is "when people say
they have a new move of God, it is basically a
new revelation that holds the believer to
something that they are not held to by Scripture.
"My primary concern is that the Rev. John
Kilpatrick and evangelist Steve Hill are trying
to take what they say is the move of God and
making merchandise of it," Dager said.
"And I don't mean just making money. They
are trying to manipulate what they say is the
sovereign move of God and you can't do
Hill, the revival's chief messenger, wrongly
believes God is using him, Dager said.
"With many charismatics, when a thought
comes into their head, they assume -- 'Oh God
just spoke to me.'
"But in fact, it is thier own desire, and
everyone is supposed to believe them.
"It is foolishness," Dager said.
"The Holy Spirit administers to us -- but
not in this way. with a sort of 'live telephone
Dager said he is not judging revival-goers'
hearts or their desire to serve God.
"Some of these people are very
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