By: David Cloud [FBIS]
The last large ecumenical conference I attended with press credentials was Celebration Jesus 2000 in St. Louis, Missouri. There I witnessed the same "spirit slaying" phenomenon that I have seen many other times at various charismatic forums.
It is also called "falling under the power," "carpet time," "Holy Spirit glue," "soaking in the anointing," and other things. This phenomenon was practiced in the evening meetings as well as in many of the morning and afternoon sessions, and hundreds of people experienced it. The "spirit slaying" is one of the chief "miracles" that the charismatic movement promotes.
At the end of the evening meeting on Friday night of the conference, for example, Assemblies of God evangelist Steve Hill (who led the famous charismatic revival in the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, the first few years) invited the people forward in a confused invitation which was a mixture of receiving Christ, renewing your relationship with Christ, dedicating yourself to Christ, doing business with God, etc. He mentioned the gospel and the blood of Christ, but he did not plainly preach and explain the gospel and he did not plainly contrast the true gospel with the false sacramental gospel of Rome. In such an ecumenical environment (there were thousands of Roman Catholics in attendance), the preacher must make the gospel exceedingly plain or his listeners will merely re-interpret his words in terms of Roman Catholicism or the teaching of some other false church.
Anyway, hundreds of people came forward on Friday night in St. Louis to have hands laid on them by the speakers, and many of them "fell under the power" and lay on the concrete floor of the convention center, some of them for a half hour and more. As Hills and John Kilpatrick (pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola) laid hands on people, they yelled "fire!" fire!" Some of those laying on the floor rolled around, some shook, some laughed almost hysterically, some wept, some smiled blissfully, some appeared to be unconscious.
The Saturday morning session led by John and Carol Arnott from Toronto, Canada, is another key illustration of the focus on "spirit slaying." Arnott spoke for a few minutes then invited pastors to come forward if they "felt they would die if they did not soon receive a touch from God." He told them to say to God, "Why not me and why not now; I take it in the name of Jesus." About 40 or 50 went up front, and John Arnott and his wife laid hands on them. Most of them fell on the floor. One continued standing but he started shaking almost violently and remained like that for a long time, until Carol Arnott laid hands on him and he fell to the floor. After laying hands on the pastors and while most of them were still on the floor, Arnott continued delivering his message to the crowd in his quiet manner; but as he was speaking his wife roamed around laying hands on people and "ministering" to those who were lying on the floor. It was very confusing, to say the least. Some people were laughing hysterically. Some were rolling around. Others were weeping or moaning very loudly. Carol Arnott was talking and yelling. All the while, John was rambling on about how the Holy Spirit was preparing to send the greatest revival in history. From time to time, he would pause in the midst of speaking and would shout, "FIRE! FIRE ON HER! FIRE ON HIM! FIRE LORD!" then he would continue speaking to the crowd as if nothing had happened.
Arnott made light of those who criticize the spirit slaying experience and who warn about the danger of receiving false spirits. He said that just as a father would not give a stone to a son who asks for bread, God would not give a false spirit to those who seek the Holy Spirit. This completely ignores repeated Scripture warnings such as 1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3,4. Arnott claims that the spirit slaying is "90% bad stuff going out and good stuff coming in"; 10% is prophetic, and about 1% is foreign that has to be dealt with by those in charge. He said that he used to believe that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman who would never force people to do things and would never treat people harshly, but he no longer believes that. He claimed that the reason God wants His people to submit themselves to being slain by the spirit is to surrender their pride and fear.
All of this is a great confusion and error. There is absolutely nothing like the charismatic "spirit slaying" in the New Testament Scriptures.
New Testament examples of people falling down:
1. Believers sometimes fell down before Christ to worship Him (Mt. 2:11; 18:26; Lk. 17:16; Jn. 11:32; 1 Cor. 14:25). The term "fall down" is sometimes used in Scripture to describe worship (Ps. 72:11; Is. 44:19; 46:6; Dan. 3:5; Mt. 4:9; Rev. 4:10; 5:8,14; 19:4).
2. The disciples fell down on their faces and were afraid on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:6).
3. The men who took Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went backward and fell down when he spoke the words, "I am he" (Jn. 18:6).
4. Saul fell to the ground when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4).
5. Ananias fell down when he was stricken of God for his sin (Acts 5:5).
6. John fell at Christ's feet "as dead" in Rev. 1:17.
How are these examples different from that which is experienced in the Charismatic movement?
The instances of falling down in the New Testament have no similarity whatsoever with the "spirit slaying" phenomenon that is part and parcel with the Charismatic movement. In the New Testament, there was no laying on of hands preceding the falling down. In fact, there was no human instrumentality whatsoever in any of the instances of falling in the Bible.
There was no spastic jerking.
There was no "Holy Spirit glue" which kept someone from rising. There was no laughter connected with the falling.
There was no repetition of the falling.
There was no teaching on falling.
There were no people queuing up in lines waiting to fall.
There were no repetitive choruses preparing people for mystical experiences.
There was no one yelling "Fire!" and "More, Lord!" and such things.
Friends, I refuse to participate in or support any alleged "revival" that includes "Spirit slaying" or uncontrollable laughter or spiritual drunkenness or other manifestations that are so patently contrary to what we see in the New Testament Scriptures. Charismatic leaders say, "Don't worry about the manifestations." That is unscriptural and extremely dangerous advice. We are instructed to prove ALL things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Charismatic leaders say, "Just open up and don't be so uptight; lighten up and let God do what He pleases." That is unscriptural. We want God to be in absolute control of our lives and churches, but it is folly and rebellion to ignore the fact that God's Word warns repeatedly of false spirits and false teachers. The Apostle Peter did not counsel us to open up and lighten up. Instead, he warned: "BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). To be vigilant is to be on alert, on guard, on the outlook for enemies and deception. This is the very opposite of the "spirit slaying" experience whereby the Christian allegedly "goes out under the power." To be sober and vigilant means I will not submit myself to an experience whereby by consciousness and vigilance are violated.
Beware of the Charismatic ecumenical movement that is sweeping across the world.
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him" (2 Corinthians 11:3,4).
Pastor Dale Morgan
Did you know that at the turn of the century the present-day Pentecostal Movement came into being, emphasizing "speaking in tongues" and "divine healing." Their failure to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" led to many false teachings regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit and produced confusion in the minds of the saved and unsaved religionists alike.
This Pentecostal Movement arose mainly from within various Protestant churches but they were soon forced out, either because of their unusual beliefs and practices or, in some cases, because they felt unhappy in churches which had become liberal theologically and worldly in position and practice. At least two things can be said for most of these early Pentecostals-they utterly repudiated the liberalism of the ecumenical movement and would not condone mixing the world with the church.
In the 1960's a new movement took shape, sharing the basic doctrines of Pentecostalism but advocating a "stay in" rather than a "come out" policy with regard to church affiliations. This movement is commonly known as the "Charismatic Movement." It involves not only various Protestant churches but Roman Catholic churches as well.
In fact, if one is supposably able to "speak in tongues" or if he has experienced a "healing," he is accepted by the Charismatics with little or no regard to his church affiliation or doctrinal deviation. When you hear Roman Catholics talk about how their "baptism in the Holy Spirit" has given them a greater love for the Mass, the Mystic prayers of the Rosary, the Pope and Mary, you know that this cannot be attributed to the True Holy Spirit, but rather to a false or counterfeit spirit.
In the 1980's, yet another movement appeared on the religious scene which made the Pentecostal/ charismatic false teachings even more appealing and dangerous. Why? Because this movement promoted the same, basic unscriptural doctrines held by Pentecostals and Charismatics while, in its inception, disclaiming any relationship to either of these groups, thus making it especially attractive to evangelicals and fundamentalists who did not want to wear the label of either group because of their deviant teachings and practices.
The impetus for this new movement came largely from several widely circulated books and many lectures to evangelical groups around the world by Dr. John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Dr. Peter Wagner of Fuller Theological Seminary Institute of Church Growth.
Both men greatly influenced each other and, as they experimented with various teachings and practices related to "healing, miracles, signs and wonders," they soon went even beyond the Pentecostal and charismatic errors. They claimed that the exorcising of so-called "territorial spirits" was essential to complete the task of world evangelization; and, that God had re-established the offices of prophet and apostle with those supposedly holding these offices receiving direct messages from God for the church, and exercising divine authority over the church.
This newest movement is often referred to as "Power Evangelism," "Healing, Signs, Wonders and Miracles Evangelism," or the "Third Wave of the Holy Spirit." Ecumenical in scope and decidedly worldly in practice the three so-called "waves of the Holy Spirit" (Pentecostals, Charismatics and Power Evangelism teachers) have now blended into a powerful coalition which is rapidly spreading. This poses a great threat to the purity of the Church and the Gospel.
Others have dealt at length with the dangers of the Charismatic Movement and how scripturally unsound the movement is.
Our purpose in this study is to briefly point out some of the real dangers of this movement so that God's people will be informed and forewarned. We realize that there are many professing believers involved in this movement. But that fact in no way decreases the dangers inherent in it. It is important to look at principles, doctrines and positions and not to look solely at the individuals who compose this movement. The Word of God must be the only basis for conclusions drawn-we must not judge by personal relationships or prejudice.
The CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT Is Dangerous Because...
1. It accepts tongues, interpretation of tongues, visions, dreams, psychic experiences, prophecies, etc., as being messages from God to His children. This is a grave danger. Once you accept "extra-biblical messages" (those which are in addition to the Bible but not necessarily contrary to the Bible per se) it is not long before you will be accepting "anti-biblical messages" as being valid (those which directly contradict God's Word) . The Charismatic Movement has done and is doing exactly that. In reality, all extra-biblical messages are anti-biblical messages because God's Word specifically warns against adding to the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18, 19).
The Charismatic Movement defends these extra-biblical, anti-biblical messages on the basis that, "New winds of the Holy Spirit are blowing." They say, "Who knows what the Holy Spirit may do?" Let no one forget, however, that the Word of God is a completed revelation and was given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19). We can be sure of one thing-the Holy Spirit will never contradict Himself. It was the Holy Spirit Who warned about adding to the Word of God. Therefore, those who add to God's Word cannot claim to be authorized or empowered by the Holy Spirit.
2. It encourages its followers to stay in apostate Protestant churches as well as Roman Catholic churches and other churches which preach and teach a false or counterfeit gospel by asserting that if the supposed "gifts of the Spirit" are present in false religious systems then joining them in evangelism, worship, service, etc., must be an acceptable ministry. God's Word plainly tells believers that those who preach another gospel are "accursed" (Galatians 1:6, 9) and that those who fellowship with false teachers are partakers of their evil deeds (2 John 10, 11). Satanic deception through false tongues, miracles, materialism, psychic experiences and the like help to bring together what God's Word declares must be kept separate. The Charismatic Movement is promoting the Ecumenical Movement and the Roman Catholic Church by overlooking serious doctrinal error, with eternal consequences, for the sake of "unity in the Spirit." This is very dangerous!
3. It sells and promotes, like the New Evangelical Movement, most of the new Bible versions and translations, many of which add to or take from the Word of God. This is also very dangerous because it destroys confidence in the written Word by causing the reader to question the divinely preserved text. The new Bible versions water down and actually change vital teachings of the Word of God as well.
4. It places unscriptural and undue emphasis on physical healing or material wealth building. This stumbles many precious believers who are falsely taught that it is always God's will to heal and reward financially. Both the Scriptures and experience teach that God may use physical afflictions for refining, correcting and chastening (Hebrews 12:3-11; Job 23:10). God's Word teaches that He can heal anyone, anytime, but that He does not heal everyone, every time. Paul learned this truth when God explained why his thrice repeated prayer for personal healing was not granted (2 Corinthians 12:1-10); and, also, when one of Paul's faithful helpers, Trophimus was unable to accompany him because of sickness (2 Timothy 4:20). When we pray for healing for ourselves or others, we must never forget that such healing is always God's prerogative based upon what He knows is best for each of His children, not upon "demanding" or "claiming" such healings or financial wealth as do the Charismatics.
5. It, unlike its predecessor, Pentecostalism, fosters and encourages a spirit of materialistic worldliness in the church and in the individual believer. Instead of striving for true holiness and Godliness in speech, dress, hair, music, entertainment, etc., the Charismatic Movement prides itself in using worldly means to entertain their own and attract the lost. This is also very dangerous. Read 1 John 2:15-17.
6. It encourages women to forsake their God-given place in the home and in the Church. This results in disorderly homes and disorderly churches with women assuming places of leadership in direct violation of the Word of God. It is strange, inconsistent and sad to hear Charismatics using the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians to justify speaking in tongues as a gift of the Spirit for our day when that very same chapter says plainly "Let your women keep silence in the churches... " (1Corinthians 14:34). To countermand God's command to women is dangerous- for women, for the home and for the Church.
7. It promotes and encourages what is called "coming under the power," a dangerous practice in which certain leaders "lay hands" on people causing them to "swoon, erupt in supposed holy laughter or unintelligible utterances, faint, slump down, roll around on the floor, experience the power" etc., thereafter remaining unconscious or semi-conscious for several seconds or longer. The Charismatics attempt to use John 18:6 to justify this practice which is another example of how they twist the Scriptures to justify and defend their practices. There is no Scriptural precedent, example or command for this experience. Hypnotic suggestion and the desire for an extra-biblical experience opens one up to either pretended or demonically energized results which parallel those of the occult.
8. It glories in "miracles" and often uses a "miracle" as the basis for validating a person's message or practices, even though the message or the practice is unscriptural. This is dangerous since the Scriptures plainly teach that the last days will be days of great deceitfulness (2 Timothy 3:13). God warns that the coming of the Anti-Christ will usher in a time of "all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). We read in Revelation 13:3 that the deadly wound of the Beast was healed and that the "Second Beast" deceived men by the use of miracles, even having the power to give life to an image (Revelation 13: 18). The validation of a man's message and methods today is not "miracles"-it is conformity to the Word of God. It is dangerous to accept any other basis of judgment. The false notion that miracles must accompany the preaching of the Gospel in order for the lost to be saved today is definitely unbiblical. The one true Gospel of salvation by faith, repentence and baptism, in Christ Jesus is still, and will ever be, God's power "unto salvation to every one who believes the simple Gospel message" (Romans 1:16). Undoubtedly multitudes today are trusting in a charismatic "experience" for their salvation due to these false teachings rather than upon the sure promises of God's Word. (John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; Romans 10:13-17).
9. It confuses and misleads believers as to Scriptural teachings concerning prayer. Using Matthew 18:19 (...if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing. . . ) as a basis for claiming healing, financial blessings [Wealth Building] or solution of any problem, they ignore what God says in 1 John 5:14,15 (...if we ask any thing according to His will....).The charismatic teaching that it is never God's will for any believer to be ill or in trouble of any kind is neither Scriptural nor is it actually true in their own ministries and personal experiences. Yet, over and over again, Charismatic leaders say to people in public meetings or to multitudes over the airwaves, "Let's agree together that every person listening or watching to become financially rich or healed-in Jesus' name." Are all such healed or become financially rich then or later? Of course not! By twisting and misapplying the Scriptures, they are deceiving millions.
10. It promotes dangerous and unscriptural teachings concerning the present power of Satan and the believer's attitude toward this "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Charismatic leaders whip their audiences into a veritable frenzy as they speak of binding Satan, casting him out of individuals and into the pit, etc. They talk of "stomping on Satan" and "chasing him out of this world." Such teaching completely ignores the believer's Scriptural instructions. We are to "resist Satan" (1 Peter 5:8,9); to put on "the - whole armour of God" that we may be able to stand against his wiles and quench all his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:10-17), not forgetting the Scriptural example of Michael the archangel's attitude when dealing with the devil (Jude 9).
We firmly believe that "speaking in tongues" [the supernatural speaking of unlearned foreign languages] ceased with the completion of the Canon of Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:8). We firmly believe that it is wrong to teach professing believers to tarry for or seek an additional or "Another" infilling of the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly teaches that all True believers have been Joined only once by the True Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13) and that those who do not have the True Spirit of Christ or are waiting for an infilling by a "different" spirit are not His at all (Romans 8:9b).
We firmly believe that the erroneous teachings of the Charismatic Movement have obscured many true and blessed teachings regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit Who convicts the world of sin (John 16:8-11), intercedes in prayer to the Father on behalf of the believer (Romans 8:26, 27); comforts, teaches and guides believers into the truth of the Word (John 14:15-26; 16:7, 13); and Who has "sealed [us] unto the day of Redemption" (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit has a blessed and important ministry in the life of every believer and we dare not neglect, belittle or pervert this wonderful ministry. The Holy Spirit uses the written Word which He gave through the apostles and prophets to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit will never lead us to do or say anything contrary to the Bible, God's Holy, inerrant, infallible, eternal Word (2 Timothy 3:16) .
Someone may ask, "What if the Charismatic Movement is right and you are wrong about "speaking in tongues" being for our day?" Is it possible that God does want His people to have this gift now?" The answer is clear-if "speaking in tongues" is for our day, then surely it ought to be practiced and used according to the Scriptures and not what is being practiced in the modern "tongues" movement. Not all believers could expect to have this gift (1 Corinthians 12:4-11,28-31) and "tongues speakers" should remain silent unless an interpreter was present (1 Corinthians 14:28).
The one speaking had understanding of what he spoke in the unlearned, foreign language (it was never unintelligent gibberish or Glossolalia: The unintelligible speech or sounds that are currently claiming to be a gift of the Holy Spirit. These speech patterns are commonly associated with a hypnotic trance state or with certain schizophrenic syndromes. Many primitive tribes and world religions practice glossolalia.) and unless he or an interpreter would make the message or prayer known to the rest of the church, his understanding would be "unfruitful" (unprofitable) with respect to the edification of the rest of the church (1 Corinthians 14:4-6, 12-17 cf. 12:7). Also, men were to have the leadership in the church and the women were to submit to their Spirit-enabled ministry; no woman was to speak in tongues in the churches (1 Timothy 2:11,12; 1 Corinthians 14:34). Charismatics scorn these truths.
If the Charismatic Movement were of the Holy Spirit of God, it would be exercising spiritual discernment and calling for separation from the Counterfeit church; that of false prophets, false teachers and false Brethren, apostate churches and unscriptural practices. It would also be exposing the false gospels and other heresies taught by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, not joining with them in evangelism, prayer and worship.
For all of these reasons and many others like them, we sound this word of warning: THE CHARlSMATIC MOVEMENT IS DANGEROUS-WATCH OUT FOR IT!