Part 1: The Destroyed Foundations - The Spirit
The Kingdom Gospel Messenger,
Vol.8, No.4, August 1996
"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Jer 5:30,31
"Rev. Ernest Ramsey, an associate pastor at Unity's Kansas City Founder's Church, Unity on the Plaza, is an enthusiastic follower of the Alice Bailey and Benjamin Creme teachings. In his Research Report #2, he tells of something he was led to by a spirit guide--what he terms 'Neo-Pentecostalism.' An aberrant branch of Pentecostalism, this is more commonly known as the 'Manifest Sons of God.' ...Ramsey concludes based on even less evidence than I have personally collected that this is part of the New Age Movement.
...Ramsey excitedly pointed out in his report that [the Manifest Sons] had a teaching which indeed did parallel the Aquarian teaching of the Age of Aquarius -- the Old Testament 'Year of Jubilee' as well as the 'Feast of Tabernacles.' The Year of Jubilee paralleled the redistribution of the world's wealth. The Feast of Tabernacles was the equivalent of the coming together of the World's peoples and varied religions under one tent or tabernacle--the equivalent of the New Agers' long-awaited 'New World Religion'... - "A Planned Deception: The Staging of a New Age Messiah", by Constance Cumbey, pp. 171-172.
"What the orthodox theologian and the narrow doctrinaire have to offer no longer satisfies the intelligent seeker, or suffices to answer his questions. He is shifting his allegiances into wider and more spiritual areas. He is moving out from under doctrinal authority and to direct personal spiritual experience, and coming under the direct authority which contact with Christ and His Disciples, the Masters, gives." - Occultist Alice Bailey
"Well, I guess I ought to get around to saying something out of this Book tonight." - A featured speaker at the Toronto Airport Fellowship
In the first three installments of this series, we have looked at the Latter Rain / Manifest Sons / Restoration / Dominion movements and their doctrine, and how it has perverted the Word of God and its proper interpretation. What I want to turn to now in this article is the perversion of the work of the Spirit as well, particularly as it has evolved in the Word of Faith circles through the "Laughing Revival", and the so-called "Toronto Blessing" of the "Third Wave" and Restoration circles.
We also want to look at the tie-in to the Latter Rain eschatological vision, and at some of the current developments that are working to bring the "great apostasy" of II Thessalonians 2:3 about.
Just as God has a plan for His Church, so Satan has a plan for us too, and he knows he cannot do all the damage he wants to the human race just by attacking man's conceptual knowledge of God. He also wants to manipulate us into counterfeit spiritual experiences that will lead the unsuspecting into delusion and ultimately, eternal damnation with him.
While it is true that Christianity is an experiential relationship with a Living Being--("The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,"--Ro 8:16, etc.)--it is nonetheless a relationship based upon objective truth (that is, the Word of God). It is not basically the seeking of an experience, as in the Eastern mystical religions because God is a Person and not an impersonal "Force" to "tap into". And because it's a relationship with a Person, that is why Christianity is so morally and ethically oriented. In Christianity, spirituality is not essentially spiritual experiences, but the development of character and integrity. And that is why it's so hated, because while spiritual experiences puff up our pride, knowledge of our sinful nature deflates it.
Therefore, the best way for a Christian to avoid deception when desiring deeper spiritual experiences with God is by keeping his motives right. If we concentrate on seeking the Lord Himself, then He is free to impart spiritual experiences to us sovereignly, that is, as it seems good to Him. But if we lust after mere experiences, God is willing to accommodate by letting the devil deceive us (I Kings 22:22), even to the sending of angels of light (II Cor 11:14). Worse yet, there are even times when God Himself will deceive us, if there are idols in our hearts. In Ezekiel 14, when the elders of Israel came to enquire of the prophet, God said they were not serious, but just looking for a confirmation for what they wanted to do. Thus He threatened to mislead them under such conditions (vss. 3, 4).
When Christianity veers off into being a mere experience-based religion, that is the day it will cease to exist. It will become just another form of cultic Gnosticism. I find it terribly ironic therefore, that a veritable icon of the New Age Movement, Alice Bailey, apparently understood this principle better than many Christians do today, as her quote at the beginning bears witness to. And Bailey's life is a prime example of what can happen to someone who becomes bored with the truth of God. A self-described "rabid, orthodox Christian worker" who even became for a while an evangelist "of the Billy Sunday type", Bailey at age 39 was contacted in 1919 by a supposed "ascended Tibetan Master" named Djwhal Khul who for many years thereafter, telepathically channeled through her 19 of her 24 books.
Most Christians would have little problem with what I've said thus far and would be incredulous to think that a purported Christian movement could ever end up in the New Age without even knowing it. But as I will attempt to show in this article, that is exactly the direction these groups are heading in as they are perhaps the primary movers and shakers pushing the Body of Christ into the fulfillment of Mystery Babylon. There is a mixture of some doctrines here regarding the Feast of Tabernacles, the Year of Jubilee, and the push toward a whole new experience of the Spirit "beyond Pentecost" (so they claim) that is the real agenda behind the "Toronto Blessing" and similar Charismatic movement activities. And unless the Church of Jesus Christ wakes up and sees where all this is headed, then like the proverbial frog in the pot, we will be slowly boiled until we wake up one day with no discernment left at all, and given over to "strong delusion" (II Thess 2:11).
Stirrings, Stirrings Everywhere
You might be inclined to think that I believe that all the reported activity of the Spirit going on in the world today is one big sham delusion. I assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I am well aware that from all over the world, marvelous testimonies are coming in of God on the move in powerful ways such as healings, gifts of the Spirit, conversions of unbelievers, restoration of backsliders, reconciliation of people and people groups, dreams, visions, prophecies and the like. I am well aware of the reports of huge open air meetings around the world where the Holy Spirit suddenly sweeps over the crowd laying them out and performing great healings and the like, without any effort or manipulation on the part of the speakers. Far be it from me to pan what truly is of God or not give credit where credit is due, for in these things I rejoice with everyone else. People who are skeptical or leery of all this nonetheless find it difficult to prove that God has already given up on His people.
But there is another side to this story. Many people are reporting encounters with very deceptive, powerful and high level demonic spirits in these same meetings, especially those that feature drunkenness, shakings, animal noises and general pandemonium. There is at the least, an enormous amount of confusing flesh involved in the "manifestations" controversy. And it is for these kinds of reasons that many Christians caught in the middle, especially those hungry yet unfamiliar with the things of the Spirit, are in a lot of anxiety about what to believe.
Since we are living in a time of great subjectivity, I'm sure you won't mind if I tell you that, for what it's worth, when I mentioned to God how complex this whole situation is, I feel He told me, "Everybody's biggest trouble is figuring out what's at work--God, the flesh or the devil." And furthermore, that "Everybody especially needs a better understanding of the demonic in all this."
But because of this confusion, people have tended to take one side or the other. One will derisively label the other as Pharisaical "heresy hunters" who nit-pick over what is Biblical and the like, while the other tends to pan everything as either the devil at worst or the flesh at best, even to the point of considering nearly the entire Church already apostate.
Again, you the reader, especially after having read the first three installments of this series, would probably tend to assume that I belong to the second category of reaction. But the truth is, although I've been most critical of the so-called revivalists, I really have felt from the beginning caught in the middle of all this. Allow me to explain.
Although I share with the critics the basic Pre-Millennial vision of the end-times (a Great Tribulation, an Antichrist, a False Prophet, widespread deception and compromise, etc.), I do not share their belief in a Pre-Trib Rapture. Thus I do see the Church going through the Tribulation and bringing in a great harvest (Rev 7), and having great power and glory resting upon them. Therefore, I am not willing to pan as one big delusion all the subjective words coming forth that the greatest move of God is yet to come. I am even willing to concede that this Tribulation period could be, as a transitory, precursory era, the beginning of the Kingdom Age as Christ ministers for another 3 1/2 years, but this time from heaven through His people in a most extraordinary way, perhaps an even greater way since it will be the worst period in human history (Jn 14:12; Mt 24:21).
Yet in spite of this, I also believe that these Latter Rain people invariably misinterpret what God is showing them, especially as regards their context, timing and nature. Although the Church will see power in the Spirit, this is not going to eventuate in Dominion in the flesh for her, but one of great hatred and persecution by the world, even as the New World Order falls apart and people turn to God by the droves (Mt 24:9; Rev 7:14). And even those Latter Rain groups that reject a Dominion scenario still trouble the Church with their legalistic insistence on restoring the Church according to their strange ideas.
Therefore do I totally reject the Latter Rain hidden "agenda"--their manipulation of the Church into a false ecumenical unity (to supposedly get that anointing); their attacks on doctrine as "divisive" (but only as a means to introduce a whole new set of doctrines--their own); their delusory belief that they corporately are Christ on the earth, and therefore the seed of Abraham through whom blessing and restoration of all the earth will come; their insistence that this "corporate Christ" cannot come about without apostles and prophets replacing local elders as the ultimate "restoration" of New Testament church government; their watering down of the Gospel message to a New Agey one of inviting unbelievers to come "celebrate Jesus" to accommodate the hostility of our day towards Christianity; their attempts to induce and pretend revival to fulfill their eschatological theories, and on and on.
A Mixed Bag
In this article we want to develop this eschatological tie-in to these spiritual experiences, but first we need to take a look at the subject of manifestations. What I would say in general is that the manifestations being seen nowadays cover a broad spectrum of activity from that of the Holy Spirit, to a lot of flesh, to a growing acceptance or lack of awareness of demonic activity.
As a Pentecostal, I do believe some things are of the Spirit of God. Certainly genuine healings are taking place by the Holy Spirit. People are also being convicted of sin and delivered from life-long bondages and demonic afflictions. Some are being genuinely slain in the Spirit, are getting visions, dreams, and the like. God looks upon the hearts of people and blesses as He can, even in the midst of a lot of error.
But the emergence of the Rodney Howard-Browne "Laughing Revival" and its offshoot, the "Toronto Blessing" are another animal altogether, no pun intended. I know that the Toronto people have tried to disavow any connection between the two, but the fact remains, it was Randy Clark who introduced this to John Arnott's church after an experience he had at a Howard-Browne meeting in Tulsa.
Rodney Howard-Browne, the self-described "Holy Ghost Bartender" who encourages his audience to belly up to "Joel's Bar", is a hot ticket on the Charismatic circuit. A deadpan comic who is very adept at "working the crowd", he works hard to get them to join in on the revelry, even as he disavows any effort on his part to do so. The result is an absolute pandemonium of hilarity, "drunkenness in the Spirit", rolling in the aisles, running in place, and similar wastes of physical and emotional energy. At one of the first series of meetings in this "new thing", the South African evangelist preached on money for three nights and walked off with a cool million dollars. This "thing" is "new"?
Clark, a St. Louis Vineyard pastor who says he was so depressed about the course of his life and ministry that he was seriously contemplating suicide, testifies that he was snapped out of it when God touched him at a Howard-Browne meeting. While no one is the final judge of another man's personal experience, I will say that God will use anything if it will avert a personal tragedy in someone's life. Furthermore, it is my deep-seated conviction that since so much of this world is run by beliefs, if a person really believes they've been healed of depression, they are healed of it, regardless of whether anything supernatural has taken place or not.
Not long thereafter, in January of 1994, Clark brought this new experience to John Arnott's Vineyard in Toronto. Thus the chaos now known as the "Toronto Blessing" that has drawn hundreds of thousands from around the world broke out. Characterized almost from the beginning by hysterical, uncontrollable laughter, shaking, screaming, sobbing, feelings of excessive heat, being pinned to the floor, drunkenness, flopping, hopping and the like, its stated end was to "refresh" God's people with a new touch from God. As one set aside logic, opinions and fears of being deceived, (so people were told), and submitted to "carpet time", "soaking prayer" and the like, so one's wineskin would be "softened for this 'new wine'".
It will probably be forever debated whether God actually visited Toronto, or visited it and was crowded out by human devices, or whether this has been one big hype from the beginning altogether. In the beginning, the Vineyard Association generally welcomed what was taking place at Toronto, but with a major twist. In the Vineyard's early years, much of such activity was taken to be demonic and a cause for deliverance. Now these things were being touted as "manifestations of the Holy Ghost"! The situation only got worse as people at Toronto began to break out in animal behavior such as roaring like lions, screeching like eagles, pawing like bulls, barking like dogs, crowing and strutting like roosters and the like. These esoteric things were interpreted to be "prophetic signs". Eventually even the Vineyard leadership couldn't handle it and suggested a departure for the Toronto Airport church out of the Association.
What About Manifestations?
"'Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives. Her people all roar like young lions, they growl like lion cubs. But while they are aroused, I will set out a feast for them and make them drunk, so that they shout with laughter--then sleep forever and not awake'", declares the Lord. 'I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter...'" [God Almighty. Jer 51:37-40 (NIV)]
I am willing to concede that some people have been ministered to by God at Toronto, Pensacola, et.al. But by the same token I've heard of God using drunks to tell other drunks how they can get saved and that working too. However, I cannot but conclude that at the very least, this movement has been stewarded terribly, and at its worst has done untold damage by seeking to induce a Civil War in the Church over this supposed "new move", yet in reality introducing New Age spirits and demonic influences into the Church of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the vast majority of people involved in it or even looking on do not realize that Toronto is part of an agenda to force the fulfillment of a false Latter Rain eschatological hope that is doing much to lead the Church into a New Age Christianity and part of Mystery Babylon.
But because there has been this mixture, the Church has ironically been bogged down in a very fruitless debate over the question of "fruit", with much frustration and talking past one another involved. To be sure, the jury is yet out on the ultimate fruit of the Toronto Blessing and the Laughing Revival. Although I am not a great fan of Hank Hanegraff for various reasons, still, I must generally commend him for his forthright and unyielding stance in this debate, and do not doubt that his new book will document some of the bad fruit in people's lives. But for now, because there is such a mixture involved here, I would like to make some observations regarding the more controversial "manifestations". In descending order (as regards the damage done), they include:
Although most of what the Bible has to say about laughter is found in a negative light, still, there is no doubt that it is in and of itself a positive and beneficial human experience. "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..." (Prov 17:22). In my own prayer time, I have been continually amazed to see what a wonderful sense of humor the Lord has! In fact, for about 7 years now, learning such things has revolutionized my two-hour morning prayer time and addicted me to it. I've found that God seems to notice the ironies of life far quicker than I do, and finds them very amusing. And it all has taught me a lot about how He is so unruffled by the things that usually drive us crazy.
The difference in the kind of hilarity found in the "Laughing Revival" is that it is in response to nothing in particular, and that it has no sense of propriety. In fact, sometimes, the more solemn the ritual, the worse it gets. It too often smacks to me of a mocking demonic manifestation. It certainly distracts people from the Scriptures which are able to make us wise unto salvation (II Tim 3:15).
If that seems far fetched, you ought to be aware that the very same sort of behavior going on at Toronto and Rodney Howard-Browne meetings is identical to that found in the New Age cults. I know, I once was in such cults. And to refresh my memory, I've seen video clips of both types of meetings alternated with one another and they are virtually identical.
The Spiritual Counterfeits Project in Berkeley has documented case-loads of this kind of thing. These are cultic practices designed to induce altered states of consciousness. Just three of such groups are led by people like:
Bhagwhan Shree Rajneesh, the Oregon guru whose devotees bought him 50 Rolls Royces. In his book, Dance Your Way To God, Rajneesh writes, "just be joyful...God is not serious...this world cannot fit with a theological god...you have to dance your way to God, laugh your way to God" (p. 229). Danny Aguirre's article goes on--"Often referred to as being 'drunk on the divine', Rajneesh encouraged his followers to come and 'drink' from him. Bhagwhan's spiritual 'wine' was often passed along with a single touch to the head."
Ramakrishna, "an Indian saint" who "daily went into 'samadhi', a trance in which one involuntarily falls down unconscious and enters a rapturous state of super-conscious bliss (ananda), complete with beautiful visions and often involving astral projection. These states could last anywhere from a few minutes to several days and were often accompanied by uncontrollable laughter or weeping. He could send others into this state with a single touch to the head or chest."
Swami Baba Muktananda, who would impart to his followers "what was called 'guru's grace'...through Shaktipat (physical touch). This 'grace' triggered the gradual awakening of the Kundalini which in turn produced various physical and emotional manifestations [which] included uncontrollable laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc. Some devotees became mute or unconscious. Many felt themselves being infused with feelings of great joy and peace and love. At other times the 'fire' of Kundalini was so overpowering they would find themselves involuntarily hyperventilating to cool themselves down."1
Shaking and Trembling
I agree that the Bible records instances of where people trembled before the terrible Presence of God, and to the degree that revivals have had such responses from human beings based on that reality is the degree to which I think such shaking has been genuine. But what I would point out is that it is my understanding that so much of such shaking came about as sinners and backsliders came under conviction due to a combination of preaching about sin coupled with an encounter with the holy Presence of God. Certainly Jonathan Edwards, who is so often being appealed to for precedent, preached this way. Needless to say, his intelligent and forthright messages contrast sharply with the silly atmosphere and schizophrenic nature of Toronto sermons, which alternate between a message of super-syrupy "love" on the one hand, to slanderous caricatures of the rest of the Body of Christ on the other.
Furthermore, once people in true revivals found peace with God, the trembling usually stopped and they became examples of stability to help others find the same peace. To turn such behavior into a nightly ritual just smacks to me of religious exhibitionism. At the very least, I really balk at the idea of calling such things, manifestations of the Holy Spirit. At their best, calling them soul-shaking reactions to an encounter with God expressing itself through the emotions and body might be more accurate and less confusing to people unfamiliar with such Charismatic jargon. At their worst, they are just shameless flesh or demonic manifestations.
I've prayed about these things a lot and feel God has confirmed these basic opinions to me. I also believe that when the real thing falls and if God begins to judge those who have been perverting His Gospel that these same onlookers will be too awestruck to shake and too dumbstruck to talk.
Resisting a strong temptation to make a pun here, (well there you see, I went ahead and yielded), I will be diplomatic (i.e., "loving") and say that my attitude towards this is that Spirit-filled people can have sacred cows of their own too. Although I consider myself to basically be a Pentecostal, that doesn't mean I believe that the epithet "Holy Roller" is necessarily a badge to be worn with pride. A lot of things that are considered to be traditional in Pentecost I think came about when the real power of God began to wane after Azusa Street and people were willing to settle for a "fair shew in the flesh" (Gal 6:12).
My understanding of early Azusa Street was that the participants were not there to seek any gifts or manifestations, but the Lord. Old Brother Seymour would hide his head in an orange crate and pray. The Holy Spirit ordered the meetings in a supernatural and dignified way. In fact, according to eyewitness Frank Bartleman, the only problems they encountered was when people, usually preachers, would show up to try to take over the meetings or bring a fleshly message.
But the Spirit of the Lord was so strong that they usually became too convicted to carry it out! Because this early atmosphere was so quickly lost, as happened at Wales and so many other revivals, I believe people began to turn to the kind of emotionalism that characterizes carnal Pentecostalism. And none of this considers that epileptic fits are often demonic manifestations anyway.
I know what it's like to be "Ghosted". I've been in powerful meetings where the Holy Ghost has descended and everyone's felt high as a kite. I've seen people have their knees buckle and pass out when Kathryn Kuhlman prayed for them. But there is no way anyone can convince me that the current practice of prolonged staggering around, slurred speech and silly behavior is the work of the Holy Ghost! If this is supposedly the work of the "new wine" being poured out, hasn't anyone ever heard about "holding one's liquor"?
I have watched as ordinarily-dignified men in responsible leadership positions lurch around pretending to be so touched by God as to be out of control. When I prayed about one the next day, he suddenly appeared before my spiritual eyes black from head to foot (a symbol of unrighteousness in my vision-language with God). "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour" (Eccl 10:1).
I take spiritual drunkenness to be a serious symbolic warning from the Lord. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Mark 7 for their blind sense of spiritual perspective, he partially quoted from Isaiah 29. But the full context of this famous passage is sometimes overlooked:
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, pray thee: and he saith, I cannot: for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men; Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." (Isaiah 29:9-14)
Toronto advocates are fond of calling their critics "religious Pharisees", but Jesus here identified the Pharisees with these prophets who were "drunk, but not with wine..."! Even more incredibly, they openly concur with the ignorant assumption of the Jews who mocked the 120 on the Day of Pentecost as being drunk--"full of new wine" (Acts 2:13). But when the 120 poured out of the Upper Room, they were merely full of joy and the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:52), proclaiming the wonderful works of God (2:11). This to me only further underscores the truth of Isaiah's words about "deep sleep".
When it comes to the well-debated "animal noises" of the Toronto Blessing, I in no way believe they are from God. The biggest stretches are made to try to justify these things, but in my opinion, if they are not outright demonic manifestations, they are at the least total flesh that can open the door to the demonic. For although we all get in the flesh, to do so deliberately is to open the door to the demonic, for the flesh is the breeding ground for the demonic.
As I have read and listened to the various testimonies pro and con for this current phenomenon, one in particular really stunned me, and reminded me of just how dangerous and subtle this whole area of spiritual warfare can be. It's a story on the Internet by a 21 year-old woman in Finland named Antti Huima. She says at her first encounter with a TB style meeting led by a local pastor, she was puzzled by the inevitable instruction to "not pray, just receive". She says that as he started speaking, "suddenly something like a deep darkness filled me. It felt like I was in a nightmare or had just woken from one. I wasn't able to pray and felt bad." She says she got no relief until afterwards when a friend prayed for her at a later Bible study. Once the blood of Jesus was pleaded over her, immediately "the darkness was lifted away and deep peace and light came instead."
Nevertheless, because of all the positive testimonies, her defenses dropped again and she returned later when a visiting speaker from Toronto or the States was at this church. She says when she went forward for ministry,
"I felt bad, but tried to ignore my feelings. Then I felt that same force was pulling my legs backwards. I remember seeing one of my friends in the front of me, shaking on the floor in a way that resembled snakes. It was far away from the God I knew. Then I felt some spirit was trying to break into me. It was around me, I could feel it, but I wasn't able to recognize it as the Holy Spirit."
She says she later spoke to a friend who had been in the New Age/occult before his conversion to Christ. He told her, "It's very, very dangerous situation. You can feel the spirit, and it feels bad, but when it gets in all the bad feelings vanish, and it feels very good indeed." (Emphasis added.)
Later at a church youth camp, one of the four young people who had received the "Toronto Blessing", confided to her,
"I feel some power working in me, but it does not feel just good. I feel there is something bad, and I am scared...one of us sees now Satan walking the prayer meetings very often...that's why they were commanding it to leave. When I was in the prayer meeting, I could feel there were two kinds of hands above people. There were white hands that tried to bless people, but then there were black hands also that tried to perform [counterfeit] miracles too."
Antti also tells of a woman she knows who had been in a TB style meeting.
"Suddenly she felt a power in her hands, felt them shaking and heat in them. She wondered what was going on when she saw Jesus who said to her, "I want to give to you the gift of healing"' The woman considered this for a while, and then said, 'Show me your hands, please', as she wanted to see the scars left by the nails on the cross. 'Jesus' disappeared. There came another Jesus, who said, 'If you had received that power, the same things you see happening there in front would have begun to happen through your hands too.'"2
This reminds me of the story of the head of medical research at Stanford University who had incurable cancer. Hearing about Sai Baba, a Hindu adept possessed by a high-level demon, this doctor traveled to India for help. When Baba met him, he told the man what his ailment was, materialized some ashes in his hands, gave him some to eat, and smeared the rest on his forehead. The man returned to the States totally healed. Just another day in the life of a so-called holy man who has been known to produce 12 different kinds of fruit on one tree (Rev 22:2), and who is revered by millions of Hindus as a living god. If you want miracles, there you go.
It's not my intent to scare believers into a paralyzing fear of everything supernatural , but the point is, inspite of many passages in the Bible warning us that there are not one, but two sources for supernatural power, the Church today foolishly seems to think that as long as everything is done in the name of Jesus Christ they'll be safe. I am continually amazed at the naivete, lack of discernment and lack of discussion of this possibility in the Body of Christ.
In fact, just the opposite is the case. Christians are being told that they should with wholehearted abandon jump into a whole new arena of spiritual experience, one even beyond the Pentecostal experience, just waiting to be "tapped into" out there. On the other hand, they are also being told that, if you don't do this, you are part of the "Old Order" of things that is resisting the "new move of the Spirit". In fact, people like you are part of the "anti-anointing" crowd, the "grays" in an emerging Civil War in the Church, representing the "gray matter" of human reasoning that wants to keep the people enslaved to the old religious machine! Sacre Bleu!
Ironically, if anything is typical of "gray matter" thinking though, it is by these "New Order" advocates who love to build straw men arguments to knock down with their irrelevant points. For aside from the fact that it's magazines like Charisma (which supports the Howard-Browne and Toronto revivals) that represent the real "religious establishment" of our day, we can also point out that, no, people who oppose this do not necessarily do so because they are "cessationist",3 and therefore reject anything subjective. In fact, most of the critics come from Pentecostal groups that dealt with the Latter Rain heresies and who often have about 75 years of collective 20th century Pentecostal experience over those who so often are relative newcomers to the things of the Spirit.
No, the problem they have is with the deep-seated naiveté and elitism of these people who tell us to throw all caution to the wind and enter into incredibly speculative, even weird, spiritual experiences to prove our humility and dedication. They say "Just because something is weird doesn't mean we should reject it." My response is, just because it's weird, why do we have to accept it?
One of the real pet peeves I have long had about the modern-day preaching of the Gospel is that, as the Church has opted for a "reasonable" but distorted message of "grace" that urges people to "accept" Jesus rather than follow and obey, invariably the more spiritual amongst us resort to legalistic "deeper life" teachings just to shore up standards and appearances. But what follows sometimes is a cure that's worse than the disease. For just as deception so often ends up accusing others of the things it's guilty of itself, so likewise legalism holds up as a prize yet to be attained, things which the Church already possesses by the grace of God.
These people, by their pretended higher attainments in these things, are sometimes more Pharisaical in their passion to hunt down the mythical "cessationist" to answer, than those amongst them who actually have relevant questions to ask. They are like the Judaizers who sought to bring the Galatians into bondage by "troubling" them with these gnawing thoughts that somehow faith wasn't enough (Gal 1:7). But in this case, what we're supposedly missing is not circumcision, but an esoteric, extra-Biblical experience.
Ironically, this is at the same time the Gentile heresy the early Church had to deal with also--Gnosticism. The Gnostics claimed to know, in their words, "the deep things of God"--esoteric, hidden revelations that made them "spiritual", while ordinary Christians were thus stuck being "soulish". But Jesus and Jude turned it around on them. Jesus sarcastically said these were those who knew "the depths of Satan", (Rev 2:24), while Jude said these are they which be "'sensual' (Gk. psuchikos, "soulish"), not having the Spirit" (Jude 19). This is the apparent direction these people are willing to head in.
"There is another realm of spiritual experience typified in scripture by the Feast of Tabernacles. Until we understand and partake of this feast, as we have both Passover and Pentecost, we will never fulfill our destiny and calling. We must discover the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles and 'celebrate' it along with Passover and Pentecost...
What God did among Jews in Jerusalem, He is going to do among humanity and worldwide. Pentecost will come to maturity in the Feast of Tabernacles." [Robin McMillan and Steve Thompson, "Beyond Pentecost", Morningstar Journal 4]
"This move of the Spirit in 1994 is not just a Charismatic or Pentecostal experience concerning power or gifting. It is one thing to be clothed with power; it is another to be indwelt with the Person of God." [Marc Dupont, Toronto Prophet 5]
The reason for this push is not just a lust for experiences or mysticism however. It is born of a whole eschatological expectation regarding the last days. As I tried to develop previously, in Latter Rain dogma, the Feast of Tabernacles is not an event in Church history; it is an experience, and one that goes "beyond" the Pentecostal experience (as if the Holy Ghost's work is still evolving)!
This is why they are willing to consider any experience, no matter how bizarre, as possibly being from God. The sentiments in the McMillan/Thompson quote above express this error, yet they are so deeply believed as to drive normally-rational people to conclude that Toronto, of all things!, is the means whereby "Pentecost will come to maturity"! Beam me up again!
But the truth is that the significance of the coming outpouring of the Tribulation period is not a matter of kind or quality, but of quantity. It will be a superabundance of Pentecost--"the former rain, and the latter rain, in the first month", (i.e., at the same time--Joel 2:23). It will not be a "whole new realm of spiritual experience."
Moreover, they draw a false distinction between this and Pentecost, in that they claim Pentecost was only for the individual, whereas Tabernacles is a supposed corporate experience of God, wherein Christ makes a spiritual Second Coming, a corporate incarnation into His Body, thereafter continually manifesting His visible glory through her. But Pentecost was itself a corporate experience. All 120 of those disciples experienced what they did together, and since those days, God has already been dwelling in His people, individually and corporately.
This is the significance also of the quote by Marc Dupont. He is saying that Toronto is not just some kind of refreshing of God's people (as it is so often palmed off to be). It is the beginning of a time when God will come to continuously dwell in His people, despite the fact that He's already doing so! The advertising for a conference last September in Minneapolis featuring the Arnotts and Bob Mumford, said the conferees were planning to "move on", beyond "occasional visitations" to be an "ongoing habitation of God in the Spirit". This is "deeper life" legalism and elitism.
Now of course, it is debatable in the first place whether any of this constitutes a genuine "visitation" anyway, but the truth is the Church for 2,000 years has been having "occasional visitations" even while it has all that time been one continuous "habitation of God in the Spirit". And one thing for certain about God's visitations is that they can't be engineered and manipulated, nor held onto, no matter how hard we try. But they can be faked to fulfill one's own prophecies. To then seek God earnestly to make such happen can drive desperate people into supernatural experiences of any type, even counterfeit ones.
Can you imagine Peter in the Upper Room saying, "You know, we've got to celebrate and understand the meaning of this Feast of Pentecost, because until we do, it won't happen." But nothing they did "brought down" the Holy Ghost. He just was sent, and not one day sooner than the time allotted by God.
Yet further, when Peter addressed the crowd in Acts 2, he didn't say, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon Jerusalem and all Jews" (Acts 2:16,17). It was upon all flesh, and on wherever the Gospel has been taken for the last 2,000 years. To take whatever has already been given and make it to be an experience that is yet to come is to set an agenda to justify a revival of one's own making. It's the arm of the flesh on all flesh if anything.
Finally, although the Spirit could fall on "all flesh" in the literal sense of every human on earth, the point is, it will only "be a blessing" to those who believe (Gal 3:16). But in Latter Rain dogma, the Church becomes the "seed" of Abraham blessing the earth with an experience that literally, all humanity can enter into. Thus, the chilling truth is that such a theory parallels the New Age belief in a coming "Quantum Leap" in global consciousness, a "Planetary Pentecost" to affect all humankind (as New Age pseudo-Christian writer Barbara Marx Hubbard puts it), with an experience that will become increasingly demonic with each passing year.
Tabernacles--The Real and the Unreal
Latter Rain advocates point out (rightly) that Tabernacles in the Old Testament was a feast of joy (Deut 16:14,15), but they assume from this that the silliness of the "Laughing Revival" is an equivalent and the fulfillment of this joy. They call it an "Isaac ["laughter"] of joy", a bubbly "new wine" now being brought to the nations by the Church who is now said to be the "seed" of Abraham (Gal 3:16). This is no doubt the ultimate "Replacement Theology"! Not only does the Church replace Israel as the recipient of the Old Testament Millennial promises, but now she replaces Christ Himself!
But the truth is, the Old Testament typology in Tabernacles connects this joy with the harvest, and specifically to the period after the harvest has already been brought in. "After that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine...thou shalt rejoice in thy feast" (Deut 16:13,14). To think that the joy brings in the harvest is to get it exactly backwards. Besides, there is nothing we can or should do to force that particular harvest season to happen anyway. It's going to come when eschatological events and the grace of God converge to make it happen.
Part of this confusion results, it seems to me, from a misunderstanding of the nature of the Feast of Tabernacles anyway. The main emphasis in the Feast of Tabernacles should be put on the harvest aspect of it--not unity, not joy, not even celebration since it includes the Day of Atonement. In the first two mentions of it in the Scriptures, it is called, "The Feast of the Ingathering" (Ex 23:16; 34:22). It took place in the fall during the main harvest period, and how true it is that the main harvest of the Church age--of both the righteous (Rev 7:9; 14:16) and the wicked (Mt 13:30; Rev 14:19)--will take place at the end of its long growing season .
The word "tabernacles" later appears in Lev 23:33-43, Num 29:12-32 and Deut 16:13-16, yet it does not refer to God dwelling in His people but His people dwelling in the tabernacles or booths the Israelites were commanded to make and live in for eight days each fall. The promise in II Cor 6:16 wherein God said He would "dwell in them, and walk in them" is a quote from Lev 26:11,12 where He promised to do that 365 days a year, not eight.
Furthermore, this strange ritual, it is specifically said, was to commemorate the period when God "made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Lev 23:43). In great ironic contrast to the earthly ambitions the Latter Rain has for the Church, this is meant to symbolize and remind God's people that they are but "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11:13), and are to emulate the faith of their father Abraham who "sojourned...as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob" (vs. 9).
It seems to me that if one wants to make a case for God "dwelling with men" in an unusual way during this coming period, I would think it would be in the sense that this feast will culminate in the literal, physical presence of Christ, the Lord of the feast, at the end of this ingathering, when He actually returns to the earth. Like Passover six months earlier, Tabernacles actually encompassed three feasts over a 22-day period--The Feast of Trumpets from the 1st to the 9th day of the seventh month; the Day of Atonement on the 10th; and the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd.
In my mind, I can see the Blowing of Trumpets beginning at the start of the Tribulation, as the word is trumpeted forth that the Lord's coming is at hand. Then would come the Day of Atonement when the Lord judges the nations, the Devil and all at Armageddon, and Israel looks upon and mourns over the One Whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10). Then and then only is the actual fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles proper (with its joy) which will continue on throughout the Millennium (Zech 14:16).6
The other major theme of the Feast of Tabernacles is that of unity, which is typified in the dissolution of all distinctions of social rank and status as the people gathered to live in those booths for 8 days. But, pouncing upon the prayer for unity by Jesus in John 17, the Latter Rain people twist this subject into one of lamenting the appearance of division that denominationalism seems to give. In doing so of course, they knowingly or not act as cheerleaders for the very argument of Rome, that the essential unity of the Church must be visible and embodied in one central institution. But as a remnant Church that has eyes to see what is happening emerges in the years ahead, they will manifest the kind of unity so many are looking for, for they will do it by rallying around the only other standard we have to rally around besides Christ Himself, and that is His truth, (including His truth as regards eschatology).
But people of greater or lesser Latter Rain persuasion have their own "strategy" for helping God out in this matter. These people are involved in Charismatic ecumenicism, the Promise Keepers, the Jesus March, Toronto, apostolic and prophetic networking, the Word of Faith movement, the "A.D. 2,000" movements, the citywide Church movement, spiritual warfare, intercession and many other "streams". The Latter Rain vision is to bring all these disparate elements together in a "lowest common denominator" approach of (1) promoting ecumenism and downplaying (existing) theologies, (2) eliminating the existing denominational system and replacing it with an apostolic headship model (which will make reunion under Rome more natural), and (3) introducing an eschatological expectation that flies in the face of the very things Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, specifically warned us to be on guard for!
There is so much going on right now that it is impossible in this short space to give it all adequate treatment, but the general trend seems to be the promotion of the belief that Tabernacles will consummate in a celebration of the year 2,000 as a Year of Jubilee.
This Old Testament event which came around once every 50 years, hasn't been kept by the Jews or anyone for millennia. It was a time when all debts were canceled, slaves set free, and ancestral lands returned to their original owners. Yet in the unpredictable world of ever-evolving Latter Rain dogma, it appears that Jubilee has been assigned the role of being the culmination of Tabernacles, with yet even greater joy.
Its popularity might be due to more down-to-earth reasons however, such as the thinking of Pope John Paul II who, from his very first papal document nearly 20 years ago, has been calling for a Year of Jubilee in 2,000. In a more recent papal letter in 1994 entitled, "The Coming of the Third Millennium: Preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2,000" he even stated, "In fact, preparing for the year 2,000 has become as it were a hermeneutical key of my pontificate."7 Hermeneutical key indeed! John Paul has been for years urging a massive redistribution of wealth in the world based on this Jubilee model!8
John Paul is also a very devout follower of the Marian cult, and dedicated his pontificate to her from its beginning. The numerous Marian apparitions, suns falling down to earth, talking pictures and statues, wafers that bleed and a whole host of other Catholic phenomena are definitely miraculous but also very demonic. Yet such fits in very well with the spiritual experiences boondoggle we've been describing herein.
Rome also has its own version of an "A.D. 2,000" evangelism strategy called "Evangelization 2,000" which is not just designed to convert people to Catholicism but to admittedly bring all Protestants back into Rome's fold. Moreover, John Paul is not just working to build a Christian ecumenicism. He has also been spending all these years building bridges between other religions as well, including Hindus, Shintoists, Buddhists--even Voodooists and snake worshippers.9 In doing so, he has only followed in the steps of his two predecessors in the Vatican who joined with the Dalai Lama, U.N. General Secretary U Thant (a Buddhist), and Anwar Sadat (a Muslim) in forming "The Temple of Understanding", a New York-based global interfaith association that serves as an Advisory Board to the U.N. Security Council.10 This is a forerunner to the one-world religion now under construction.
The Pope also plans to hold a series of ecumenical services in the Holy Land in 1999 involving Christians, Moslems and Jews. Lynn Green of Youth With A Mission has suggested that Evangelicals should apparently join in with the Pope in this. It would culminate a three-year long "Walk of Reconciliation" beginning this fall, wherein YWAMers and others would march through Europe, retracing the steps of the Crusaders 900 years ago in their campaign to liberate the Holy Land from Islamic Turks.11 And while space does not permit us here to go into the good and the bad of "Identificational Repentance", suffice it to say that Christians seem increasingly bent on being ashamed of the Gospel and intimidated by every politically correct attack on the controversial nature of Christ's message.
Yet inspite of all these red flags, Evangelical leaders seem very content to join in on this massive effort to evangelize the world through all these "A.D. 2,000" organizations, with little apparent concern for what eschatological context it plays out in. One such person is Jay Gary. Gary is a very influential Evangelical who founded the A.D. 2,000 Global Service Office after the 1989 Lausanne Conference in Manila where he was Director of Consultation. He has been the Midwest Coordinator for the March For Jesus, and founded two other organizations.
One is B.E.G.I.N. (Bimillennial Global Interaction Network) which he started with Dr. Robert Muller, who worked at the U.N. for 34 years and served as an Assistant Secretary General. This Mr. Muller is a prominent New Ager, "a follower of Teilhard de Chardin, the 'patron saint' of the New Age, who wrote that man will progressively become more Christlike until humanity reaches its ultimate goal: godhood, which he called the Omega point." Dr. Muller is also a prominent educator who claims the demon master Djwhal Khul "advised him on a core curriculum for the New Age, to be used in public and private schools to teach children 'Global Education'." In the preface to his "World Core Curriculum Manual" he states, "The underlying philosophy upon which The Robert Muller School is based will be found in the teachings set forth in the books of Alice A. Bailey by the Tibetan teacher, Djwhal Khul..." 12
Well Alice, you might be a prophet after all.
Mr. Gary also founded another group under the A.D. 2,000 umbrella called Celebration 2,000. He wrote a letter to World Goodwill about his new organization, gushing that, "One common project we are developing is an 'International Year of Thanksgiving' in 2000, especially through the United Nations. Dr. Robert Muller has given leadership to this proposal." 13
In the World Goodwill newsletter, there was an article by Gary promoting his organization. You might like to know that World Goodwill is closely linked to Lucis Trust (originally called Lucifer Trust), which was founded by Alice Bailey.
Mr. Gary heartily endorses praise marches and the Latter Rain idea of a Jubillee of joy in the year 2000. One of his favorites is the Jesus March, already mentioned. According to three writers, 1995 March For Jesus literature encouraged Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others to join in this "celebration of Jesus". They report that in Des Moines in 1994, Moonies were specifically invited to join in the March and organizers asked one man, a former homosexual, to be part of a "reconciliation meeting" with homosexuals, to "publicly apologize on behalf of the church for treating them so terribly. No Gospel. Nothing else. Just apologize. Needless to say, he refused."14 Is this the Gospel for a dying world?!
In computer technology there is a technique known as "morphing". It's a process whereby, say, a picture of one person is incrementally changed until it becomes that of another person. The problem we are having in dealing with the current spiritual state of the Body of Christ is that if you look at a still photo, things may seem normal at any given point. But there is a morphing process going on, and the image of Christ in us is slowly being morphed into that of the Devil, so much so that it appears a large proportion of the Church world seems headed for a New Age Mystery Babylon. But such are the consequences that must be faced when experience is placed ahead of God's Word.
The truth be told, there are actually so many developments going on in this huge subject, but space does not permit us to pursue them right now. But this is the general trend, and the challenge is evident. As a growing remnant Church of God's faithful ones emerges out of this current chaos, their task is to stay prayed up and exercising discernment. We are all being tested now, but for those who pass the test, the best is yet to come.
- All quotes taken from "Some Examples of Holy Laughter in Other Religions" by Danny Aguirre, Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, Fall, 1994, p. 14.
- "My Testimony" by Antti Huima, InterNet site, http://www.niksula.cs.hut.fi/~ahuima/toronto/own.html
- A "cessationist" is someone who believes the gifts of the Spirit were for the 1st century Church only, to "get it off the ground", so to speak, and are not therefore for today.
- Vol 4, No. 3, 1994, pp. 43-44.
- Mantle of Praise newsletter, 1994. Referenced by Tricia Tillin in "Apostasy and the Year 2,000" conference, Littleton, CO, Nov. 25, 1995, tape 2.
- Just as Christ's ministry on the earth was a transition period between the Old Testament and the Church age, so I take the 3 1/2 year ministry of the Tribulation period to be a transition from the old age to the true "New Age", the Millennium, the fullness of the Kingdom of God come to earth. Therefore I don't have so much of a problem with the Church celebrating Tabernacles as a foretaste of the imminency of the real thing as long as she doesn't jump the gun and fails to see that that's all it is--a foretaste.
- "The Coming of the Third Millennium: Preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2,000" by John Paul II. Quoted in "Laughing Phenomena" by Ed Tarkowski, P.O. Box 233, McKean, PA 16426, 1995, p. 30. He goes on in this document, calling on Christians to "raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations..." This sort of world-wide socialism is the reason the "beast" the woman rides on in Revelation 17 is described as "scarlet coloured" (vs. 3)
- Ibid. Interestingly, the Pope in this letter goes on, sounding like a Latter Rain man himself--"Despite appearances, humanity continues to await the revelation of the children of God and lives by this hope, like a mother in labor, to use the image employed so powerfully by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans (cf. 8:19-22)".
- "A Woman Rides The Beast", by Dave Hunt, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House), 1994, p. 418-20.
- Ibid. p. 422.
- "On A Collision Course" by Tricia Tillin, Mainstream, Summer, 1995, p. 6.
- "Robert Muller's Vision For 2000 A.D.", by Fulmer, Jeter and Riner, Christian Conscience Magazine, May, 1995.
- "March For Jesus: Commitment or Compromise?", by Fulmer, Jeter and Riner, Christian Conscience Magazine, May, 1995.
© 1995-2013 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website: http://www.banner.org.uk/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.