B. M. Rocine
By saying the right formulas, can people control God?
Can the Holy Spirit be held in the palm of the hand, pumped, or scooped into other people?
Is it true that Jesus Christ will not come back until Christians all over the world unite under the leadership of new apostles and prophets and take control of the whole earth?
Can Christians be gods?According to the teachings being circulated by some church leaders, the answer to all of the above is -- yes. In fact, the common thread between all these teachings is the last one, the thought that people are gods. For who else could control God, hold Him in the palm of the hand, or take dominion over the earth besides gods?
"Crazy people!" we may say. "Only some insane fringe groups!" we may claim. "No Christian in his right mind, that's for sure!" might be our reaction. But the truth is -- believing that people can be or are already gods is not at all unusual in these last years of the Twentieth Century. Proponents of New Age philosophy, such as celebrity Shirley MacLaine, are not hesitant to stake their claim on godhood. The following are typical:
M. Scott Peck (psychologist):As we shall see in this booklet, such outlandish statements are not unique to New Agers. Many in Christendom promote teachings that are disturbingly similar.
"God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward God. God is the goal of evolution" (The Road Less Traveled, 1978. p. 270).
Margot Adler (witch):
"We are gods and might as well get good at it" (Drawing Down the Moon, 1986. p. 25).
How Long, O Lord?The temptation to challenge the Lord's unique status as God is as old as the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. In fact, the attraction of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was the promise that it would make humanity into divinity:
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5, emphasis added).Adam and Eve partook of the fruit and were cursed by God as a result. But even they were not the first to fall to what is the oldest and most used temptation. In Isaiah 14:12-14, we read of the reason for Satan's fall from heaven:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High" (emphasis added).Clearly, the temptation has not worn out. Multitudes, these days, are being lulled into thinking that they can cross the line into the exclusive realm of God and succeed where Adam, Eve and Satan all failed. Even among Christians, the heretical notion that man can become a god is being pushed in various forms and by many means. In the last few years, people have purchased hundreds of thousands of books which teach doctrines that support, overtly or subtly, this very idea. Such doctrines reach into the homes of millions via a television network, the president of which is a teacher of these heresies. Second, is a group of false teachers who have been visited by thousands from the far reaches of the globe, and who are said to have infected 4000 churches in Great Britain with their teachings. Among the leaders of a third group is a man who is presently the chairman of the board of The Family Channel cable network, who ran for President of the United States in 1988, and who spoke at the Republican National Convention in 1992. A fourth group is filling stadiums at something like the rate of the Buffalo Bills.
The sad fact is that many people are wrapped up in false doctrine, and do not fully realize it. They have not really taken seriously their Christian responsibility to find out what the Bible teaches. Unfortunately, some people in the churches today do not care about sound doctrine as long as going to church is a good time, a thrill, a comfort, or a way to meet some nice people. A preacher is often thought of as an entertainer instead of a proclaimer of truth. If he's charismatic, wild or unorthodox, it makes for a more exciting show. As a result, great numbers of people are accepting, some more and some less, dangerous and perhaps damning error. Apostle Paul foretold the mass appeal of delusion in II Timothy 4:3: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."
Hopefully, you do care about sound Biblical doctrine and will finish reading this publication. The Truth of God's Word, the health and destiny of eternal souls, and your own Christian witness are worth the hour or so you'll need to read it.
What follows is an explanation of the doctrinal common ground between four hugely influential and fast growing movements which are today seducing the Body of Christ:
- The Word-Faith Movement
- The Kingdom Now Movement
- The Toronto Craze
- The Promise Keepers Organization
The Truth Will Set Us FreeThe Bible teaches that man will forever be man, and God will forever be God:
Exodus 9:14 "...there is none like me (God) in all the earth."The movements we are dealing with blur the distinction between God and humanity. The paragraphs that follow show how each movement is an expression of one error: that men are or can be gods. The explanations of the movements are arranged in order of boldness. In other words, the Word-Faith and Kingdom Now movements openly, and in so many words, teach that men are gods, but the Toronto craze and Promise Keepers are more subtle. Several teachers and many followers in the second two movements may claim to be repulsed by the thought that people are gods, but the Toronto craze and Promise Keepers must be considered together with the first two movements for the following reasons: 1) several of their leaders are not so repulsed; 2) the logical end of their teachings is the conclusion that people are gods; 3) their actions tend to this error.
Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
Isaiah 43:10 "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me."
Isaiah 44:6 "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
The many names of teachers of heresy to which the reader will be introduced in the following paragraphs will, at times, seem a bit hard to follow. However, it is imperative that these names be introduced. First, heresy is spiritually deadly, and the spreaders of poison must be identified. Second, it is important to see just how widespread is the belief that men are or can be gods among the pioneers and guides of the four movements.
The Word-Faith MovementAt Living Word Church we have adopted the label 'hyper-faith' for the teachings of the Word-Faith movement. Perhaps 'hyper' is a good way to describe their audiences, too, if we measure the way people gobble down the teachings of this movement. In eighteen months' time, Benny Hinn alone sold more copies of his books, including Good Morning, Holy Spirit, than did James Dobson and Charles Swindoll combined. Hanegraaff's exposé of the Word-Faith movement, Crisis in Christianity, proves there is no shortage in their camp of brazen claims, as Word-Faith teachers reach out to audiences of hundreds of thousands through their books and tapes and millions through TBN television network:
"[Man] was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority...God made us as much like Himself as possible...He made us the same class of being that He is Himself...Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God...[The] believer is called Christ...That's who we are; we're Christ" (Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, 1989. pp. 35-36, 41).
"God's reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself...He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even" ("Following the Faith of Abraham," tape 01-3001, n.d.).
"You don't have a god in you, you are one" ("The Force of Love," tape 02-0028, 1987).
"I am a 'little messiah' walking the earth" ("Praise-a-Thon" on TBN, November 6, 1990).
"[The Spirit of God]...declared in the earth today what the eternal purpose of God has been through the ages...that He is duplicating Himself in the earth" ("The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God," Morris Cerullo World Evangelism tape 1).
"Did you know that from the beginning of time the whole purpose of God was to reproduce Himself?...And when we stand up here, brother, you're not looking at Morris Cerullo; you're looking at God. You're looking at Jesus" ("The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God," Morris Cerullo World Evangelism tape 1).
"God duplicated Himself in kind!...Adam was an exact duplication of God's kind!" (Authority in Three Worlds, 1982. p.16).
"I am a little god! Critics, be gone!" ("Praise the Lord" program, July 7, 1986).
Twisting the TruthThe promises of power and supernatural aid to the believers are certainly numerous in the Word of God. For instance, the Bible calls Christians "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4). However, in examining the verse's context, it becomes clear that this verse is speaking of an endowment of divine power from God to live a holy life, something no man could do without the Lord's help. Word-Faith teachers, on the other hand, twist this verse and six or eight other favorite verses to make the quantum leap to the idea that we are gods. The Bible teaches that only of Jesus Christ can it be said, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). In fact, whereas John 1:1, 2 and 14 tell us that the Word, God Himself, became flesh, some of the Word-Faith teachers claim that Jesus the man became God, just as we can. For instance, Kenneth Hagin states, "Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth" ("The Incarnation," The Word of Faith 13, December, 1980). Incidentally, this statement was taken nearly word for word from E.W. Kenyon's The Father and His Family, 1965. pp. 97-101).
On the contrary, the Bible stresses thousands of times the great distance between the nature of God and the nature of man: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:4); "...for dust thou (man) art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19); and "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5).
One Scripture that Word-Faith teachers claim supports the idea that men are gods is Psalm 82:6: "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." Conveniently, the teachers ignore the context of the verse. The Lord is rebuking the judges of Israel who held the poor of the land under their judgment as if they were gods over them. But the judges did not judge righteously. In the very next verse the Lord underlines the vast difference between Himself and the unjust judges: "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."
Word-Faith teachers are famous for the "name it and claim it," "confess it and possess it" theology of greed. Word in Word-Faith does not mean the Word of God, the Bible. It means the words of men, who are in their view, gods. These teachers claim that the spoken words of believers, whether truly Christians or not, activate God. When we do not use our words to activate God, He cannot help us. When we use our confession according to the proper formulas, He is then bound to act on our behalf. Copeland goes so far as to say, "Faith is God's source of power" (Freedom From Fear, 1983. p. 12. emphasis original). Frederick Price says, "Yes! You are in control! So, if man has control, who no longer has it? God" ("Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is...and How to Pray?," The Word Study Bible, 1990. p. 1178).
These teachers love to claim Proverbs 6:2 as a proof-text: "Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth." But the verse has nothing whatsoever to do with the activation of faith laws by our confession. Examined within its context, it is clearly a teaching on making ill-advised promises.
Copeland cites the power of witches as an example of confession at work. David Cho cites the mystics of Eastern religions as those well-schooled in tapping "fourth dimension" power by the use of visualization and confession. If it is not enough for the Word-Faith teachers to exalt man to the status of godhood, they also demote God to the status of the genie in the lamp. The Word-Faith movement is the worship of our faith rather than the worship of God. We must interpret the title of one of Hagin's books, Having Faith in Your Faith, as a mockery of having faith in God. God only knows how many sick children of parents within a Word-Faith church have died unnecessarily because their parents interpreted a trip to the doctor as a confession of doubt.
The Kingdom Now MovementThe Word-Faith movement is largely an outgrowth of the Kingdom Now movement. The Kingdom Now movement is about fifty years old in America, and in the past, the Assemblies of God denomination took decisive action to stop its activity -- at great price -- back when the heresy was better known as 'The Manifested Sons of God.' Now all churches which love and adhere to sound Biblical doctrine are challenged to take a stand once again. The Kingdom Now movement has a complicated history and a complicated variety of doctrines that are unraveled by Albert James Dager in Kingdom Theology (1986). Dager summarizes those parts of Kingdom Theology which support the idea that men can be gods:
"The basic premise of Kingdom Theology is that man lost dominion over the earth when Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan's temptation in the Garden of Eden. God 'lost control' of the earth to Satan at that time, and has since been looking for a 'covenant people' who will be His 'extension' or 'expression,' in the earth and take back dominion from Satan.Are these people out to rule the world? Do they represent a new manifestation of supermen, an over-powering army of enforcers? I am compelled to also soberly add that not only are such teachings gnosticism all over again, but they are dangerously close to the Nazi teachings of the Third Reich.
"This is to be accomplished through certain 'overcomers' who, by yielding themselves to the authority of God's (new) apostles and prophets for the Kingdom Age, will take control of the kingdoms of this world. These kingdoms are defined as the social institutions, such as...education,...science,...the arts, and so on. Most importantly there is the 'kingdom' of politics or government. This naturally implies the concentration of military and police power in the hands of those in control during the Kingdom Age...
"Those who hold to Kingdom Theology assume that the Church (some believe only a small group within the Church, called 'overcomers'), under submission to the latter day prophets, is that man child (of Revelation 12:1-5), and that it has the responsibility to put down all rebellion...
"Therefore it is necessary for them to establish within the minds of Christians the idea that, as the Body of Christ, we are Christ. In other words, we have his divine nature.
"Notice that this idea, similar to that of the mind science and other false religions, separates the anointing of 'Christ' from Jesus and bestows it upon all who come into a place of certain knowledge and spiritual attainment. This is a heresy that is as old as the Church. It is rooted in the Greek school of philosophy known as gnosticism" (part I, section A).
The next section presents a contrast between other Kingdom teachings promoting the idea that men can be gods and Bible verses which show those beliefs to be false.
Kingdom Theology Scriptural Truth There is no snatching out of the I Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord church from this world because himself shall descend from heaven with Christians must be left in the a shout, with the voice of the world in order to take dominion archangel, and with the trump of God: over it with their god-man powers. and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Christ may return before, during, Revelation 19:11-20 Notice that verse or after the Millennium or not at 14 says, "And the armies which were in all since the Church itself is heaven followed him." Christ does not Christ. It is the Church's job to follow them. It is only then that we establish the Kingdom of God on the shall see Jesus Christ establish His earth so that Christ can return. one thousand-year reign on the earth. Since the Church has not yet Certainly Christians have a wonderful established its dominion over the place as kings and priests during the earth it has failed so far in Millennium of Revelation 20, but we realizing its divine status. will be behind Christ, never in front of Him. The initiation of the Millennium by Jesus Christ rather than by men is also confirmed in Zechariah 14:1-9 and Isaiah 11:1-10. In order to finally complete the Galatians 1:8-9 "But though we, or an enormous task of taking dominion angel from heaven, preach any other over the world, new Kingdom gospel unto you than that which we prophets and apostles will lean have preached unto you, let him be very heavily upon special accursed. As we said before, so say I revelation from personal now again, If any man preach any other visitations from the Lord, angels gospel unto you than that ye have and the dead, rather than the received, let him be accursed." written Word of God. II Corinthians 11:13-15 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." II Peter 1:20 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." Man can achieve a twisted concept Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed of immortality. In the words of unto men once to die, but after this Kingdom Theology teacher Franklin the judgment..." I Corinthians 15:42- Hall, "Permanent, lasting Freedoms 44, 50 "So also is the resurrection of from all sickness, harmful accident the dead. It is sown in corruption; it things and defeat will come about. is raised in incorruption: It is sown Freedom from the imprisonment of in dishonour; it is raised in glory: all gravitational forces will also it is sown in weakness; it is raised be brought upon the whole of man" in power: It is sown a natural body; (The Return of Immortality, pp. it is raised a spiritual body. There 2-3). is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body... Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."Dager lists different schools of doctrine within the general heading of Kingdom Theology that have come and gone or still remain:
- Latter Rain
- Manifested Sons of God
- Charismatic Renewal
- Kingdom Message
- Positive Confession (Word-Faith)
All Kingdom Now teachers have not died, however, and some of them wield considerable influence in the Church today. In addition to the many Word-Faith teachers, other current Kingdom Now teachers include Oral Roberts (televangelist and founder of Oral Roberts University and Charismatic Bible Ministries), Earl Paulk (pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta), Gary North (author and publisher), Royal Cronquist (former apostle at Manifested Sons of God headquarters at J. R. Steven's Living Word Church -- obviously, there is absolutely no affiliation between Steven's church and the producer of this publication), James McKeever (editor and publisher of Endtimes News Digest), Pat Robertson (founder and president of Christian Broadcasting Network and 1988 candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the U.S.), Jay Gary (author), and David Chilton (author).
Although much of the following terminology may mean nothing twisted or harmful when used in the right context, they are popular phrases associated with the Kingdom Now movement. A teacher may be completely free of Kingdom theology and use this terminology, so it is not wise to automatically label someone who uses these words as a heretic, but their use can tip off an alert Christian to Kingdom Now heresy.
Frequently Used Kingdom Now Terminology:
- Spoken Word
- Latter Rain
- Tabernacle of David
- Feast of Tabernacles
- Many-membered man child
- Ongoing incarnation
- Birthing in the Spirit
- Get this into your spirit
- Manifestation of the Kingdom
- Serpent's seed
- Faith in faith
- God's faith
- Manifestation of the Sons of God
- God-like faith
- Unity of the (Universal) Body
- Kingdom language
- Kingdom principles
- Christ principles
- Elijah company
- Bride company
- Covenant people
- Raising up a people
The Toronto CrazeThe Toronto Craze emanates from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF), formerly Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. TACF's claim to fame is not its doctrine. Rather it is strange manifestations, such as animal noises, hysterical laughing, and bizarre antics such as mock births complete with 'coaches.' However, TACF's manifestations cannot be rightly divorced from its doctrine. The manifestations are a reflection of the church's doctrine.
As said before, it is not the intent of this publication to expose all the error of the Toronto craze or the other three movements. Other pamphlets dealing with the error of these movements can be readily obtained (see last page). Consistent with the purpose of this publication, however, the Toronto movement must be considered as a partner in theological crime with the Word-Faith and Kingdom Now movements. Although pushers of the Toronto experience may claim to be repulsed by the teaching that men can be gods, they do support the heresy because: 1) their leaders believe people can be gods; 2) the logical conclusion of the Toronto teaching is that men are gods; and 3) the actions of Toronto proponents tend to the belief that people are gods.
Rodney Howard-Browne and Randy ClarkThe Toronto craze began when 'holy laughter' preacher Rodney Howard-Browne dispensed his 'gift' to St. Louis pastor Randy Clark in 1993 at the world center of the Word-Faith movement, Kenneth Hagin's Rhema Bible Institute. Howard-Browne, in fact, got his start as a Rhema pastor in South Africa. It is therefore no wonder that Howard-Browne has taken the nickname Holy Spirit Bartender. It is just like a Word-Faith teacher to think that he has the Holy Spirit on tap. After all, he is a god, and far be it from him to understate his faith. Against the Biblical command to "Lay hands suddenly on no man" (I Timothy 5:22), Howard-Browne advised Clark to "Lay hands on everything that moves."
Fully aware of where Clark received his dubious gift, TACF pastor John Arnott invited Clark to 'minister' in Toronto. In January of 1994, Clark did so, and thus began the Toronto craze. Incidentally, Clark, with his business card, identifies himself with both the Howard-Browne/Word-Faith camp and the Kingdom Now camp: Bartender at Joel's Place. 'Joel's Place' would be a reference to the Kingdom Now teaching that an army of god-men, called Joel's Army, will take dominion over the earth. Apparently Clark not only sees himself as a member of Joel's Army, but a supplier of them. That makes him 'god, special class.' In any case, Arnott asked Clark to stay on at TACF, and Clark did so for several months.
TACF Pastor John ArnottThe senior pastor at TACF, John Arnott clearly demonstrated his doctrinal ties to Kingdom Now theology on October 19, 1994:
"Yes, Lord, we're going to go for it, we're gonna try to do our part to bring the kingdom of God here...and wouldn't it be wonderful if the Lord would start to move in power and restore the church to its proper place and make us the head and not the tail?"Has not Arnott read II Thessalonians 2:3: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition"?
William DeArteagaWilliam DeArteaga is a TACF leader who tries to write and speak about history to support the Toronto movement. There is not space to review his teachings in this publication; however, while assuring his audience that Toronto movement detractors are much more likely to be in heresy than TACF itself, he did make this statement: "Gnosticism is the perennial heresy that occurs in all ages of the church. It is basically believing that experience overcomes and nullifies Scripture" (October 13, 1994). He clearly knows what gnosticism is, which also includes the belief that men can be gods. Any good gnostic believes he is a divine. However, experience-over-Scripture is the united cry of everyone who has expressed warnings and criticisms against the Toronto movement. And is not DeArteaga all the more responsible for what he knows seeing he defends the Word-Faith movement, E.W. Kenyon, and Kenneth Hagin in his book Quenching the Spirit? One issue in which DeArteaga defends Hagin, is Hagin's wholesale plagiarizing of Kenyon. Typical of the Manifested Sons of God movement, the leader is excused of wrong-doing for which his followers are accountable. James Beverly rightly says, "Students at Rhema training schools would be disciplined for plagiarism, while Hagin, the founder, is excused" (Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing, 1995. p.63). We are left to suppose that such is the standard when one has achieved divinity as Hagin supposedly has.
Larry RandolfThese quotes, by TACF leader Larry Randolf, are vintage Kingdom Now theology:
"The thing he (Satan) is threatened by is what we're carrying in the womb of our spirit: the seed of God... When God processes this thing and we come out the other end, we are going to be a people, one new man in the earth, that are going to exhibit and showcase the Kingdom of God in such a degree that the nations, kings are going to come to our feet and ask of us the things of God" (spoken at the Toronto church, November 18, 1994).The context of Randolf's teaching is that the process of God is taking place now, before Christ returns, before the time when the Bible teaches Christ's Church is changed forever upon His return.
Paul Cain and the Kansas City ProphetsTACF gets much of its motivation and guidance from Paul Cain and the other Kansas City Prophets (KCP) out of Metro Vineyard Church in Kansas City. Cain got his start as a minister traveling the circuit back in the forties with Manifested Sons of God and Latter Rain preacher William Branham. He admitted both his connection with the 'Sons of God' movement and his understanding that the movement is a known heresy when he said in Toronto on May 28, 1995:
"For quite a while I have been embarrassed to say anything about the latter rain, because you are associated and identified with something that people don't seem to appreciate in certain evangelical circles. So I have played it cool and haven't said much about it. But I don't care what they think any more...I believe we are going to have the latter rain and I am looking forward to it."Furthermore, as pointed out by Gruen in Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship, Cain has often referred to Joel's Army of god-men and the Manifested Sons of God as the man child of Revelation 12:5. This is classic Kingdom Now theology.
The other KCP are not to be outdone by Cain:
'Prophet' Bob Jones:It is here very important to realize that the KCP make these kinds of heretical statements on a regular basis, and they have frequented TACF to give the Toronto movement its direction and motivation at the request of the Toronto eldership. Unless it has changed recently, the TACF bookstore sells their materials as well.
"The last day church is being birthed now out of the old church [remember that one common manifestation in the Toronto craze is mock births], and the old leadership is coming to an end and the new young leadership is being raised up to reign over an end time church that will bring forth the Bride" (Visions and Revelations, 1988).
Pastor Mike Bickle:
"But through His Word, He has given us a revelation of what He intends us to be; sons of God in the full sense of the word...God said that these people were to act as God ("Glory and Dominion of Sonship", part 2, n.d., tape).
And: "I believe that God is going to renovate the entire understanding of what Christianity is in the nations of the earth. I believe that the way that 99 per cent of us across the world as believers understand Christianity, in 20 years there will be a totally different understanding of what Christianity is from what it is right now" (Overview of Corporate Long-term Vision, 1986).
Actions Speak Louder than WordsThe actions of many people involved in the Toronto craze demonstrate that they think they have the Holy Spirit in the palms of their hands. Biblically, we can participate in a spiritual communion by the laying on of hands. During the laying on of hands we can be a vessel through which the Holy Spirit flows to others. This is also taught in the Toronto movement, but they cross a line in teaching that they can dispense the Holy Spirit. For instance, at one meeting, TACF prophet Marc DuPont gave a testimony of a visiting pastor's reluctance to receive. According to DuPont, another pastor grabbed an imaginary ball of power out of thin air and pitched it at the doubter so that it hit him in the stomach. DuPont said that the ball of power knocked the man over and intoxicated him with the spirit. DuPont's audience applauded, even though the teaching was heresy! The audience should have stood up and filed out. The Holy Spirit is not in the palm of our hands. To teach so is to teach that we control God, and in fact that we are gods. It would be one thing for a member of any congregation to behave in such an unseemly manner as the pastor who threw the imaginary ball, but for DuPont, in a sermon, to make a positive example, seemingly for imitation, out of that kind of behavior is damnable. With what are DuPont and other men promoting this thing intoxicated? The idea that they are gods.
Pastor George Byron Koch is alarmed at the suggestions inherent in such activities:
"There are others involved in the Toronto Blessing who believe they are able to transmit the Holy Spirit into other people as they choose. They think the Holy Spirit is a power that they can pump, scoop, blow, and press into others, and there may even be such a power present. But it is not the Holy Spirit, and it should be rebuked. And those who may have used it should repent" ("Pumped and Scooped?" 1995).Not surprisingly, such 'prayer' techniques are common in many places where the Toronto thing is promoted. To the contrary, we must remember I Corinthians 12:11 when it comes to receiving the true gifts of the Holy Spirit: "But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (emphasis added) The Toronto movement is teaching that they cause the Holy Spirit to go into people at their will by the laying on of hands.
The Promise KeepersThe Promise Keepers (PK) is a men-only mission in which one is initiated into this parachurch by taking a vow to keep seven promises. The ministry, the brainchild of ex-University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, is fraught with doctrinal problems, but once again, there are other publications which deal with those issues. It is the intention of this publication to examine PK's connection to the idea that men are or can be gods.
PK is Christendom's latest 'darling.' So is the movement above being discerned? The movement is supposed to be about being a family man, and building unity amongst brethren. What could be wrong in that? The truth is that neither PK, nor any other church activity should be above scrutiny. Every activity must be continually measured against sound Biblical doctrine. There is no 'untouchable' in the church except Scriptural truth, least of all any person or any extra-Biblical parachurch organization. Could it be that PK's leadership is open to the idea that men can be gods? Is the logical end of their teaching that men can be gods? Could the name of PK's magazine, New Man, refer to the Manifested Sons of God teaching that God is raising up an army of new god-men? Do their actions tend that way? Are we not even to ask such questions of America's latest 'spiritual darling'?
Jack HayfordJack Hayford, pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, is on the board of directors of PK. He frequently speaks at PK stadium rallies. He writes for PK. It sounds like he is a busy man, but he is not too busy to also be one of the founders and first officers of Charismatic Bible Ministries, a leadership organization initiated by Oral Roberts in the mid-eighties. All but one or two of the Word-Faith and Kingdom Now teachers quoted in this publication are also trustees or officers on the CBM board. Hayford is, in fact, the pastor of a man who says, "If we are not 'little gods,' we will apologize to you in front of ten thousand times ten thousand before the Crystal Sea." This man, who makes such heretical claims, is the earlier quoted Paul Crouch, president of TBN. The revealing news is that Crouch has been in good standing in Hayford's church for years and is under no kind of discipline for his heretical teaching. Hayford himself taught the 'we are gods' error first in 1979, and the teaching was rebroadcast in 1986 on the Living Way radio program.
In addition, along with New Age author Madeleine L'Engle, Hayford has endorsed a recent New Testament 'translation' which provides loopholes for homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27, and pre-martial sex in I Corinthians 6:18-20. These are just two examples among countless 'translations' (which are really mis-translations) which erode traditional Biblical morality. Hayford has often shared the stage with New Agers and Catholic leaders in unity movements around the world. The point here is that Hayford is not the least squeamish about changing God's Word or holding hands with New Agers that teach we are or can be gods.
James RyleJames Ryle, on the board of directors of PK, is the pastor of both Bill McCartney and PK president Randy Phillips. Ryle has been listed among those affected by the Manifested Sons of God doctrine by Tarkowski ("Christian Conscience," February-August, 1995) and Leslie and Leslie ("The New Gnostics," 1996). He is a loose cannon who believes the Lord is moving amongst the elite, the gnostics, who will quench all opposition who dare to question their teachings. He refers to those who hold fast to time-tested Bible teaching as the "graycoats." The elite, who receive their doctrine through revelation experiences, are the "bluecoats." His prediction of a bloody civil war between the two has been cited by the Toronto movement to scare off its critics.
Paul Cain againPaul Cain was introduced earlier in this publication as a well known and long-standing proponent of the Manifest Sons of God doctrine who offers inspiration and guidance to the Toronto movement. He performs the same role for PK. Between the Toronto craze and PK, he supposes that he is finally realizing his life-long dream of 'Joel's Army' of god-men rising up to take dominion of the earth. He said at a 1995 pastor's conference in Alabama:
"I had a dream that became a recurring dream, and it was about all the stadiums -- and we've told this hundreds and hundreds of times across America -- and I saw these stadiums...all of them filled with thousands of people...We're closer to it [the rising of Joel's Army of god-men] than we've ever seen before. Who would think that there would be a group like Promise Keepers who'd already be setting the stage and filling stadiums."As a result of the attention the Toronto craze and PK give him, Cain is realizing another life-long dream, as well -- that he is now being recognized as a pre-eminent Kingdom Age prophet. Cain's group, the Kansas City Prophets, have often bragged to congregations about their frequent trips to heaven. But now, men and women who are falling all over themselves for the Toronto craze and PK are giving to Cain a 'heretic's heaven on earth.' Measured by the magnitude of his acceptance, he probably represents the farthest advancement of the Manifested Sons of God since the 1940's.
Coach McCartney's Training TableThe goals and hype of the PK rally is uncomfortably close in description to the gnosticism described by Leslie and Leslie: "Essential to Gnosticism is a belief that one is part of an elite group, described as an 'overcoming company' that is evolving, or 'becoming more and more perfected so that they will be able to drive Satan from the world' " ("The New Gnostics," 1996. p. 5). Consistent with the goals of the army of god-men described in Dager's previously cited analysis of Kingdom Now theology, McCartney describes the goals of PK as the entire reformation and cleansing of all of America's evils. Does he really suppose that PK will be America's savior? The vision McCartney describes is perfectly in tune with Kingdom Now theology:
"We have a great army assembling. They're the Christian men in this nation. However, our leadership, our clergy are not in uniform. Our clergy are divided... Now listen to me men. February 12th, 13th, and 14th to me is not a coincidence that it comes over Valentine's Day. I think we're going to have another St.Valentine's Day massacre. I think Almighty God is going to rip open the hearts of our leaders. I think He's going to put them back together as one. One leadership. We've got to have one leadership, one leadership only" (Detroit PK rally, 1995).We note that the second promise of the PK requires the dedication of a man to his mentors, so it is not the least surprising that McCartney should espouse the same doctrine as Hayford, Cain, or Ryle. The violent imagery is definitely Ryle style.
The New ManOne last point about PK: earlier the question was posed whether the title of PK's magazine, New Man, indicated a belief in the Kingdom Now idea of an army of god-men. There is no question the magazine is filled with hype. It idealizes the men who go back to their churches and 'shake up the place,' -- who put their pastors on notice that from the PK initiation on, the men in the congregation are going to move out and make things happen. There is very little concern for whether the men are making the right things happen, however. A clincher? How about New Man's very positive book review of Jay Gary's book, The Star of 2000. Jay Gary is not only friendly to the New Age movement but is also a known proponent of the Kingdom Now doctrine, and the book is his masterpiece. The book sets a deadline of the year 2000 for the rising up of the army of god-men, so it fits in perfectly with the PK agenda.
The Parable of
The Mustard SeedOne of Christ's parables makes a fitting summary of the activities that are so popular in Christendom today -- the parable of 'The Mustard Tree.' Christ taught us many truths through His 'Kingdom Parables,' those parables in which He compares the daily business of farmers, merchants, housewives, and the like, to the Kingdom of God. In several of these parables Christ identifies the work of Satan, the adversary, as being under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of God. The enemy is powerful, but he was, is, and always will be under God's authority. Therefore, it should not be surprising that Christ identifies the activity of the enemy in revealing to His followers what to expect within the scope of the Kingdom of God as it is worked out in this earth. Some of the parables in which Christ refers to the activity of the enemy are those in Matthew 13: 'The Sower,' in verses 3-9, 18-23; 'The Wheat and the Tares,' verses 24-30, 36-43; 'The Mustard Tree,' verses 31-32; 'The Leaven,' verse 33; and 'The Dragnet,' verses 47-50.
Let us focus on the parable of 'The Mustard Tree':
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."In understanding the parable, the mustard seed usually gets our attention first. The mustard seed is a marvel which Christ points us to on another occasion: "For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matthew 17:20). So the mustard seed is a symbol for faith. Faith, when in the Lord Jesus Christ, is wonderful; therefore many interpret the parable of the 'The Mustard Tree' as referring to the dynamic growth, over the ages, of the Body of Christ.
However, the parable is in context of other parables that expose how the work of the enemy may occur along side or be intertwined with the work of the Word of God. This context is the first clue that the parable is actually about the work of the enemy. Secondly, we see a tree overgrown. When Christ calls the tree "greatest," He does not mean most wonderful as much as He means largest. Mustard is an herb, as the parable reminds us. No household needs a tree's-worth of an herb in its garden. Christ is giving a picture that the people of Bible times easily associated with something grown out-of-control. Third, the birds of the air come to rest in the branches of the tree. In fact, the parallel account in Mark 4:32 says the tree "shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it." To be consistent with Bible typology, the birds represent the demonic or the unclean. Just a few verses prior, in Matthew 13:4 and 19, Christ uses birds to typify the activity of the "wicked one" snatching the Word of God away from ignorant souls. Wild birds were considered unclean animals by the Jews who heard Christ's teaching -- ref. Leviticus 11:13-19.
In the parable, like some of the others in Matthew 13, the Lord is talking about the End Times. He foretells a time when faith (wonderful as it is when focused on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word) would be based on error and provide an attractive haven for demonic activity. The mustard tree in Christ's teaching represents all the error and misplaced faith of the End Times, not just the four movements examined in this publication. However, they are part of the picture.
So, faith can be wonderful when it is faith in the Lord, but it can also be misplaced, hyper or out-of-control. An example would be the tragic death of a child whose parents named Christ as their Lord but refused to take their dying child to a doctor. The parents had claimed, by faith, that their child would be okay. Certainly, the Lord is able to heal, but as most of us realize, healings do not always take place by faith alone. Sometimes we need to, by faith, thank the Lord for and use medical science with the realization that all good things come from the Lord. The faith of people who will not use medical science is hyper or out of control. Their faith is actually in their faith rather than in the Lord.
'Misplaced Faith' is an apt name for the four movements examined in this publication. In the Word-Faith movement the normal blessing all Christians have of trusting the Lord is twisted and taken to a hyper un-Biblical extreme. Word-Faith teachers claim humans can control God by their confessions and thereby ascend to godhood. In the Kingdom Now movement the traditional faith that believers will follow Jesus Christ and have an important part when He comes back to establish His kingdom on earth is out of control. They get anxious and claim that the believers will precede the Lord, establishing the kingdom on this earth as powerful and immortal god-men. Both the Toronto craze and the Promise Keepers have run-away popularity, but on careful consideration, it is absolutely clear that the two movements share many of the same out-of-control leaders and doctrines as seen in the Word-Faith and Kingdom Now movements. In practice, all four movements teach people to have faith in themselves rather than to have faith in the Lord.
Those involved in these four hugely popular movements should make better use of their great interest in prophecy, and focus on the Word of God rather than the false teachings of men. Otherwise they may miss a very personal application of the Apostle Paul's anointed message:
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:7-12).May we all walk in the love of the Truth, the written Word of God. In Jesus' name, Amen.