Looking Beyond Toronto: The Source and Goal of the Second Pentecost
An early response to the Toronto Blessing, By Tricia Tillin
Most people are viewing the current manifestations associated with the Airport Vineyard, Toronto, as a spontaneous new move of the Spirit. The purpose and goal of this "renewal" and its foundational teaching is not being discussed - only the power that fuels it. We are all interested in dramatic spiritual manifestations, but let's draw back and take stock - let's look beyond the manifestations.
The supporters continually encourage objectors to "look at the fruit" - so that's what this article does. But it follows the biblical definition of "fruit" as something that is produced, or grown, from the life of the tree. Therefore, we have first to look at the roots of the "Toronto Blessing" to establish its tree, and then see what has grown from those roots [bearing in mind that Jesus said "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit"] (Matt 7:18)
Before going on, it is worth saying that the only reliable test of spiritual experiences and teachings is the Word of God.. There have been many claims of "good fruit" coming from the current renewal. But these revolve around supernatural experiences (paralysis, dumbness, immobility, crying, laughing, falling down and so forth) or the supposed effects of those experiences, such as healing, peace, love, happiness, boldness and so on.
However - although many experiences are worthwhile and beneficial - they do not constitute PROOF of anything. We do not need to offend those who have benefited from this Renewal by doubting their experiences; we simply need to look elsewhere for proof of the movement's authenticity.
People in other religions, in religious cults, or even in various therapies claim to have such feelings and results. There is many a happy believer in the Natural Law party, doing yogic flying; or experiencing healing through Reflexology. Many Psychics claim to heal and give prophecies by the power of God; many followers of non-Christian religions claim to have supernatural encounters that revolutionalise their lives. None of this proves they are in the will of God. It is doctrine that distinguishes any movement as authentic or otherwise.
The very first book of the Bible gives us the clue - the mistake Eve made was to look for "good things" outside of the express will and plan of God! The forbidden Tree was "good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise". (Gen 3:6). Goodness, pleasantness and wisdom, therefore, are no guarantee that a thing is in the will of God. The will of God can be found in His Word and by considering His plan as a whole.
As well as this, the Bible says that it is possible to do great miracles and to behave in a charismatic way without necessarily being in the will of God (i.e. it cannot be taken as PROOF):
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7:22-23)
How then can we know what is the true will of God? We must turn to His Word!
THE WORD OF GOD
It is very noticeable that, in the current renewal, the Word is being marginalised. Often the gospel is not preached, even when unbelievers are numerous. Often, a few scattered Bible verses are used as proof texts of physical manifestations, but no coherent Bible teaching is given. There is no foundation stone, no rock, of the Word of God upon which to place this renewal. Is it built on sand?
IT'S NOT THE TORONTO BLESSING!
It could more accurately be described as the Rodney Howard-Browne manifestation, since he was almost entirely responsible for loosing this phenomenon onto the churches. He has been active in the States since 1987, appearing on TV and conference platforms, and holding 550 "revival meetings" in America in 1992 alone. But his peculiar ministry came more immediately to public attention when he led a series of 15 meetings in May 1993 at the Carpenters Home Church, Lakeland, Florida (Pastor Karl Strader). There the manifestations associated with his ministry were intensified and thus became labelled "the laughing revival". (Report: "Charisma" Magazine August 1993).
Toronto Airport Vineyard were involved chiefly by their contacts with Rodney Howard-Browne. Randy Clark, a friend of John Arnott, the Pastor, attended RHB meetings in 1993, and after hearing about Clark's dramatic response to them, John Arnott invited Clark to lead a series of meetings at the Airport Vineyard to "pass it on". This he successfully did, beginning in January 1994.
By the end of this article, it will become clear why Toronto, not America or Rodney Howard-Browne, is being presented as the origin of the "renewal".
Previous to the Howard-Browne ministry, the same manifestations happened at meetings led by John Wimber as early as 1991. In January 1991, Wimber led the Revival Fire conference in Anaheim, California. According to one report, John Wimber - like many today, in defiance of scriptural precepts - would command the Holy Spirit to "come". In response, people would sob uncontrollably, laugh hysterically, jump, shake and make animal noises.
IT'S NOT THE "TIMES OF REFRESHING"
Now that the lack of conversions has become apparent, leaders have renamed what is going on "times of refreshing" taken from Acts 3:19-21. This says:
Firstly, we have to understand that this sermon of Peter was addressed to unbelieving Jews. It calls on them to repent so that they will be able to participate in the restored Kingdom of Israel when Jesus returns. It is quite clear from the context that the refreshing (or rest) is at the final Coming of the Lord Jesus! This promise is about His Return! Is it not about Church renewal at all. Compare 2 Thess 1:7. Paul likewise expected the "rest" or relief from persecution to come at the Return of Jesus.
Secondly, and even more importantly, the "times of restitution" of which the Old Testament Prophets spoke are specifically the literal restoration of the Jewish nation. The word in Greek is APOKATASTASIS which is only used here and in Acts 1:6:
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?"
The word means the RESTORATION, from apo, "back, again," kathistemi, "to set in order," A linked idea, that of the Regeneration, is used in Matthew 19:28 of the "restoration of all things" when, as a result of the Second Coming, God "sets His King upon His holy hill of Zion" (Ps. 2:6), and Israel, now in apostasy, is restored to blessing under King Jesus.
Once again, we are up against "replacement theology" when promises made specifically to the nation of Israel are hijacked for Church use, spiritualised and made to mean something altogether different!
THE HIDDEN AGENDA
Very little is being said about the doctrine, origins, purpose and goal of the "new move". It is my belief that most churches and leaders DO NOT KNOW those things. Some leaders, however, are promising an escalation into world revival, but are cagey about how the transition will take place. Others hint at "something being birthed in the Church" and "God is raising up an Army". Overall, however, the idea seems to be, as one leader said "Don't Analyse!" - just let it happen without wondering what it's all about. Let the people enjoy themselves and party on, and afterwards we will ask what it means.
Well, I am going to "analyse" and also explain what it all means. The truth is, the present events and the way they are being handled by leaders points unerring in the direction of the Latter Rain teaching.
THE LATTER RAIN MOVEMENT
In the late '40s and early '50s, during the Pentecostal Healing Revival, there rose to prominence a group of men who later became known as the Latter Rain teachers. One of them was Paul Cain, who later resurfaced in the 1990s as one of the Kansas City Prophets - he came under the headship of John Wimber and the Vineyard churches. Paul Cain's teaching (as most of the KCPs) is pure "latter rain".
The Latter Rain teachings were officially rejected by the Assemblies of God in 1949 as heresy. Rightly so, since they involved a man-child elite group of overcomers taking dominion over all nations and reigning "in the heavenlies" while overseeing drastic judgement on all who remained in the "old generation" - i.e., the denominational churches! The latter-rain teachings promised a Second Pentecost outpouring to empower this elite group, and to incarnate the Christ within them to the degree that they would be perfect and invincible, even to the overthrow of the powers of the heavens.
This "Second Pentecost" was prophesied to BEGIN IN CANADA, and to spread from there to the whole world. The following quote was taken from the Foreword to "The Latter Rain", by Richard Riss. This Foreword was written in 1987 by James Watt, who in 1974 served as Ern Baxter's Associate Pastor in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada - the relevance of the link to Ern Baxter will be seen later in this article.
James Watt writes:
"In a sense, the fulfilment of the Feast of Tabernacles came forth with the blowing of trumpets from North Battleford... the time of restitution of all things is about to take place...According to Paul Yonggi Cho (sic) of Korea and twenty other prophets, the last great move of the Spirit will originate IN CANADA, and by seventy Canadian cities will be brought to the 210 nations of the earth before Jesus returns."
Marc Dupont, of the Toronto Vineyard, writes that he sees Toronto as one of the major wellsprings for world revival. He claims to have received a significant prophecy in May 1992 and June 1993 of a mighty wave starting in Toronto and flowing powerfully out eastwards across Canada. He likens the present renewal to the John the Baptist ministry, heralding the coming of Christ, and believes that it will lead to major revival in the Western nations between the years 2000 and 2005. (Reports in Mantle of Praise article and Alpha magazine September 1994.).
Then he makes this intriguing statement: "This move of the Spirit in 1994 is not just a charismatic and 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"
The First Pentecost caused believers to be "clothed with power from on high". The Second Pentecost is about the incarnation of Christ into His Body. To spiritualise the scriptures, as all Latter Rain teachers do, it is about the return of the Ark to the Temple! The Coming of Christ (invisibly) into his Living Temple, the Church. This takes place, according to the doctrine, at the "Feast of Tabernacles" - which celebrates the Lord dwelling with His people. When this happens, no longer will it be the Head (Jesus Christ) in Heaven and the Body (believers) on earth - but One Perfect Man filling both heaven and earth. This is what Latter Rain teachers said we must expect in the final outpouring of the Church age!
It is impossible to understand current events without linking them to the teachings of the Restoration Movement and the Latter Rain heresies. Few people realise just how influential the Latter Rain movement was, and how firmly entrenched its teachings have become in the Charismatic churches. Ern Baxter, who was instrumental in setting up the Shepherding/Restoration movement in this country - he was one of the Fort Lauderdale Five - worked with William Branham at the time of the Latter Rain revival, and George Warnock was Ern Baxter's personal Secretary for a number of years. Can he have failed to imbibe their teachings?
One of the most prominent leaders of the Charismatic Renewal in the 1960's and 1970's was John Poole, the son of Fred Poole, who was a major Latter Rain teacher. In the early 1970's John Poole was a frequent contributor to "New Wine", just about THE most important magazine of the charismatic renewal.
Many other links could be made. To save time, I will simply quote Richard Riss, who wrote a sympathetic book on the Latter Rain Movement. He says:
"It would be impossible to gauge the extent of their [Latter Rain pioneers] influence, although it seems that a widespread underground movement developed within the Charismatic Renewal composed of individuals committed to various "endtimes truths" that had arisen during the Latter Rain revival."
What, then, are the distinctive teachings of the Latter Rain, that so penetrated the Charismatic Renewal and the Restoration Movement? Even more pertinent, how does this present "renewal" fit in, and where is it heading?
George Warnock wrote a seminal "handbook" for the Movement, called "The Feast of Tabernacles". Using that book as a base (though of course other books cover the same ground) we discover that the teaching included:
It hardly need be said that these teachings are totally out of line with the revealed Word of God. Each point could be fully refuted by a proper use of the texts. It is not my purpose to do that here, since it has been covered elsewhere, and many books and documents can be obtained on this subject. [I recommend Al Dager's "Vengeance Is Ours", Sword Publishers, Redmond WA, ISBN 0-9626632-0-4]
RESTORATION TO THE RESCUE
George Warnock believed that a forty-year wilderness experience would occur from the time of the original Latter Rain revivals until the "new generation" arose to "possess the promised land". The North Battleford revival began in 1949. Forty years later, Paul Cain (whose ministry had been on ice during the intervening years) was back on the scene. Kansas City Fellowship set up Grace Ministries as "a ministry committed to seeing the church fully restored to the glory described in God's Word". (hint).
However, they needn't have bothered! Because, the Restoration Movement had been doing their job for them. Almost without exception, these latter rain heresies are also now the teachings of the Restoration Movement! Slowly, carefully, and without ruffling too many feathers, Latter Rain teachings have been introduced to the Church until (in the UK at least) almost the entire Charismatic Church is under their spell.
A great sea-change has taken place over the last twenty years. What the early Pentecostal Assemblies discerned as heresy and banned from their platforms has crept back under another guise, been adopted by the great majority of evangelicals, and is now racing towards its fulfilment - the spurious Feast of Tabernacles!
An article about the current Renewal in "The Morning Star", Rick Joyner's ministry newsletter, was headed "Beyond Pentecost" and teaches on "The Feast of Tabernacles", following George Warnock's book almost word for word. The writers claim that what we are witnessing now is just the beginning of "the great rain of the Holy Spirit". They link Tabernacles with "the entrance of Israel into the promised land" and they promise a great ingathering to follow.
The trouble is, in a way they are right. For there WILL be a worldwide revival of worship and praise, and all mankind WILL follow after "the christ", who WILL perform astonishing signs and wonders with the help of his counterfeit Church. The Latter Rain teachings, unfortunately, are no powerless man-made creed, but turn out to be the working agenda for setting up the Antichrist kingdom! They activate mighty spiritual forces!!
When I read, in Warnock's book this statement:
"The day of reckoning is at hand! This idolatrous ecclesiastical system is doomed!...The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his Temple, and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver... He comes to his Temple, even to the Church of the living God!...A greater than Solomon is here! A greater glory than Solomon's Temple shall be revealed in this hour of the Lord's appearing in the midst of his saints!"
I cannot but turn to 2 Thess 2:4 which says:
"and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God".
THE PRESENT RENEWAL
In no way do I want to imply that the renewal, its participants and its supporters are openly satanic or consciously promoting an antichrist deception. I am sure nothing could be further from their thoughts. There is genuine zeal, devotedness to God; and also amongst the bad reports of excesses, some genuine miracles and salvation. There is always a MIXTURE in deception, to convince the unwary that the move as a whole is bona fide, to persuade the believer to "switch off his head" and to flow unthinkingly in the wrong direction.
But in order to discern the authenticity and acceptableness of any "renewal" or new move in the Church, we must study its origins (roots) and teachings (fruit) and compare them with scripture.
Few people involved in the current events know the origins of the phrases they are using (like Second Pentecost, or Latter Rain); few leaders understand where the concepts they have been taught in conferences, fraternals and elder's meetings have been coming from! Many have never even heard of the Latter Rain, and would deny having anything to do with such doctrine. Yet still they accept the beliefs (outlined above) with which they have been subtly indoctrinated over a period of decades! Ignorance is no excuse, for the teachings are plainly contrary to the Word of God. Leaders, as well as individual Christians, have a responsibility to TEST supposed new revelations, not to accept and promote them just because they are popular.
THE ONLY ANSWER
is to revert to teaching and preaching solid, biblical doctrine - about the all-sufficiency of Jesus, about the coming apostasy and about the benefits of the FIRST Pentecost. If this were done, not only would Christians not be "barren" and "thirsty", so that they queue up to experience something "beyond Pentecost", but they would be mentally and spiritually equipped to reject the Latter Rain heresies.