Scandals can be found in any group of Christians, sadly, but scandals among Pentecostals and charismatics are significant because they claim a special anointing of God’s Spirit. They claim double blessings and triple anointings and super Spirit baptisms. They claim to operate in the Spirit and flow in the Spirit and talk in the Spirit and prophesy in the Spirit and laugh in the Spirit and soak in the Spirit and even get drunk in the Spirit. They claim to have the “full gospel” and the “four square gospel” and to operate in the “five-fold ministry.”
I know from personal experience that not all Pentecostals or charismatics live scandalous lives. I was led to Christ in 1973 by an old-line Pentecostal who was a godly man, and I thank the Lord for the compassion he showed to this former “hippy” and for the biblical wisdom that he exercised in dealing with me.
At the same time, from its inception at the turn of the 20th century, the Pentecostal movement has been absolutely rife with moral and doctrinal scandals and ridiculous claims among its prominent leaders.
John Dowie, who founded the healing community that produced many of the early leaders of the Assemblies of God, was charged with alcoholism and sexual improprieties by his wife and son.
The famous Azusa Street mission where Pentecostalism was birthed was characterized by the greatest confusion: dancing, jumping, falling, trances, spirit slaying, gibberish “tongues,” jerking, hysteria, strange animal noises, laughter, spiritual muteness. The seekers would be “seized with a strange spell and commence a gibberish of sounds” (Larry Martin, The True Believers, p. 58).
William Seymour, the pastor of the Azusa Street mission, died young in spite of his claim that healing was promised by God.
Maria Beulah Woodworth-Etter, one of the most influential early Pentecostal female preachers, was dubbed the “voodoo priestess” because she often went into trances during a service, standing like a statue for an hour or more with her hands raised while the service continued” (The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, p. 901).
Aimee Semple McPherson was twice divorced. When her second husband complained about her hysterical behavior and neglect of him, she left him. Aimee’s associate pastor, Rheba Crawford, also abandoned her husband in order to preach. When Arno Gaebelein examined McPherson’s healing claims, he could not find any genuine healings. In May 1926, McPherson disappeared and was thought to have drowned while swimming off the California coast. A month later she turned up in Mexico, claiming to have been kidnapped, but the evidence led most people to believe that she had an affair with a former employee, Kenneth Ormiston, who was married at the time.
William Branham, the most famous Pentecostal healing evangelist, proclaimed himself the angel of Revelation 3:14 and 10:7 and the Elijah of Malachi 4, denied eternal hellfire, and renounced the Trinity. He prophesied that the end of the world would occur in 1977. After being pronounced healed by Branham during a Canadian healing crusade in the 1940s, many people died.
Famous healing evangelist A.A. Allen was arrested for drunk driving during a healing revival in 1955 and then fled bail and refused to face his crime. He divorced his longsuffering wife in 1967. Three years later he died alone in a cheap motel in San Francisco while his team was conducting a healing crusade in West Virginia. He was 59 years old, and he had destroyed his liver with his drunkenness.
After famous healing evangelist Jack Coe died of polio in spite of his belief that God guaranteed healing, his wife published a series of articles exposing the fraud of key healing evangelists.
In 1984, evangelist Duncan Leighton followed the Derek Prince team through Zambia where thousands of miracle healings were claimed, but Leighton was unable to document any genuine miracle healings (Leighton, Signs, One Wonders, cited from Peter Masters, The Healing Epidemic, first edition, p. 216).
In 1923, following a Charles Price crusade in Vancouver, British Columbia, a group of physicians, professors, lawyers, and pastors followed up on the alleged healings. Of the 350 people that had claimed to be healed, they could not find any physical change in the conditions of 301, 39 had died within six months of the meeting, five had become insane, and five others appeared to be cured of “nervous disorders” (D. Richard Wolfe, “Faith Healing and Healing Faith,” Journal of the Indiana Medical Association, 53, April 1959, cited from Eve Simson, The Faith Healer, St. Louis: Concordia, 1977, p. 166).
Kathryn Kuhlman, one of the most famous of the female Pentecostal evangelists, became romantically involved with Burroughs Waltrip, a married evangelist who eventually abandoned his wife and two children to wed Kuhlman. A few years after her illicit marriage, Kuhlman left Waltrip, claiming that God had given her a choice between her love for a man and her love for God. In the book Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle, Dr. William Nolen dedicated an entire chapter to his investigation of Kuhlman’s healing crusades. Though sympathetic to Kuhlman as a person, Nolen was unable to document even one case of physical healing. At the time of his investigation, Nolen was chief of surgery at Meeker County Hospital in Litchfield, Minnesota.
Pentecostalism hasn’t changed.
In 1977, Oral Roberts claimed that God had appeared to him and instructed him to build a medical center called the CITY OF FAITH. In 1980 he claimed that he had a “face to face” conversation with a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him that he was going to solve the City of Faith’s financial problems. Seven years later, Roberts said that God had appeared to him yet again and told him that he would die if he did not raise $8 million within 12 months. The wild-eyed visions and unrelenting appeals could not save the City of Faith. In 1989, Roberts closed it to pay off debts! Yet the Pentecostal world in general did not decry Roberts as a false prophet and a religious phony. Thousands continued to flock to ORU from Pentecostal churches, and millions of dollars continued to flow into Roberts’ ministry from gullible supporters.
In 1989, Jim Bakker, head of the very influential Pentecostal PTL program, went to prison for defrauding his followers out of $158 million. He was paroled in 1994 after serving five years of a 45-year sentence. His trial brought to light his lavish lifestyle, which included six luxurious homes and even an air-conditioned doghouse. Prosecutors charged that Bakker diverted to his own use $3.7 million of the money that had been given to his “ministry.” Bakker also committed adultery with church secretary Jessica Hahn and paid more than a quarter of a million dollars in an attempt to hush up the matter.
Bakker’s wife and the co-host of the PTL Club, Tammy Faye, divorced Jim while he was in prison and married Roe Messner, an old family friend whose company helped build PTL’s Heritage USA resort complex. Before her death in July 2008, Tammy Faye had a non-judgmental ministry to homosexuals. She appeared at “gay-pride” events nationwide, including a Tammy Faye look-alike contest in Washington, D.C., where she was “surrounded by men in falsies and pancake makeup…” (Charisma News, November 2002).
In January 2000, Jim Bakker told Larry King, “Every person who died in the [Jewish] Holocaust is in heaven.” Bakker defended this heretical doctrine in a letter to the editor that appeared in Charisma magazine in June of that year.
On the Jim Bakker Show, December 2015, Bakker agreed with Tom Horn’s prediction that the Antichrist will come in 2016.
A year after the PTL scandal first hit the world’s headlines, Jimmy Swaggart, a leading Pentecostal preacher, created his own scandal when he was caught with a prostitute. At the time, Swaggart had a 6,000-member congregation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a 270-acre headquarters, a Bible College, an influential television ministry that reached to many parts of the world (broadcast on 9,700 stations and cable outlets), and a ministry income of $142-million per year.
Swaggart is the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis and both can pound the piano, but whereas Jerry Lee pursued a flamboyant rock & roll career Jimmy pursued a flamboyant gospel career. A report from a Swaggart crusade in Calgary, Alberta, described the “gospel music at acid-rock volumes” and said “it is a good show” with Swaggart “hammering away at the grand piano, sweating and gesturing like Elvis Presley” and “working the audience like Frank Sinatra” (The Courier News, Elgin, Ill., May 20, 1991, p. 5A).
After being caught with the prostitute, Swaggart refused to stay away from the pulpit for a year as the Assemblies of God in Louisiana stipulated as discipline, so he was disbarred, but he continued preaching. He lost three-fourths of his television audience and his Bible college students and a large percentage of his church members, and his finances crumbled. But the Jimmy Swaggart scandal wasn’t over even though he claimed that when he asked God, “Lord, do you still want me to take this work?” God replied emphatically, “Yesssss! You’re in better shape today that you’ve ever been before” (“Swaggart Back in Pulpit with Tales of Nightmares and Revelation,” Religious News Service, May 23, 1988; reprinted in Christian News, June 3, 1988, p. 5). In a television broadcast in May 1988 Swaggart had the audacity to boast, “You are looking at a clean preacher!” and “I do not lie!” (Don Matzat, “The Same Ol' Jimmy,” Christian News, May 16, 1988). Perhaps this is because Swaggart had sought counseling from Oral Roberts, and Roberts had observed demons with long fingernails digging into Swaggart’s flesh and had cast them out (Huntsville Times, Huntsville, Alabama, AP report, March 31, 1988). The exorcism didn’t last. In 1991, Swaggart was again in hot water when police in Indio, California, stopped him on a traffic violation and found that the woman riding with him was a prostitute.
In spite of all of this, Swaggart is still swaggering, though his crowd isn’t very large. On his September 12, 2004, program he said, “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”
By the 1980s, Pentecostal evangelist Peter Popoff had a ministry on 51 television channels and 40 radio stations and an annual income of seven million dollars. He also held healing crusades in many cities, during which he would exercise a “word of knowledge” by calling out the names, addresses, and illnesses of strangers who were in attendance.
In 1986, the news broke that Popoff’s amazing “revelations” were broadcast to him by his wife after she had conversed with members of the audience. She transmitted her information by radio signal, and Peter could hear her voice through a tiny receiver in his ear. A team of skeptics discovered the ruse and recorded the private broadcasts using a scanning receiver and recording equipment (Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1986).
When questioned about the matter by John Dart, religion writer for the Los Angeles Times, Popoff replied that his wife only supplied him with about 50% of the information, and the rest he got from the Lord!
Popoff was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1987, but by 1990 he was back in business with a new book entitled Dreams, which he announced in a full-page ad in Charisma magazine.
Robert Tilton, who was voted one of the most popular Pentecostals by Charisma magazine readers in 1983 and appeared on the cover of Charisma in July 1985, was the founder of the Word of Faith Satellite Network, host of Success-N-Life broadcasts, and founder and pastor of the Word of Faith World Outreach Center in Farmers Branch, Texas. He taught Word-Faith doctrines and promised prosperity and healing to those who supported his ministry and exercised faith.
He wrote, “You are ... a God kind of creature” (Tilton, God’s Laws of Success, pp. 170-71).
In 1990, he said: “Being poor is a sin, when God promises prosperity. New house? New car? That’s chicken feed. That’s nothing compared to what God wants to do for you” (John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, p. 285).
In 1991, when his ministry was taking in $80 million a year, Tilton’s empire was shaken when ABC-TV’s PrimeTime Live exposed his extravagant lifestyle and his shady fund-raising practices. His estate included an 11,000-square-foot home near Dallas, a condominium in Florida, a yacht, and other assets worth $90 million. The show reported that Tilton’s ministry threw thousands of unread prayer requests into the trash even though Tilton claimed to pray over them. He had even claimed: “I laid on top of those prayer requests so much that the chemicals actually got into my bloodstream, and ... I had two small strokes in my brain” (Robert Tilton, Success-N-Life, November 22, 1991).
Though Tilton protested that he was the victim of falsehood and sued ABC for libel, the case was thrown out of the courts.
Because of the scandal, Tilton lost much of his television audience and most of his church members, but he is still on the air and still preaching the prosperity gospel and still begging for donations and still promising God’s blessing on those who give.
In 1991, Kansas City prophet Bob Jones’ tapes were removed from the Vineyard Ministries International product catalog after he admitted to “a moral failure” (Lee Grady, “Wimber Plots New Course for Vineyard,” Charisma, Feb. 1993, p. 64). Jones was using his alleged spiritual authority and “prophetic anointing” to induce women to disrobe before him in his office.
In his 1994 book What Happened to the Fire, J. Lee Grady of Charisma magazine said: “About a year later, after the church had become affiliated with John Wimber’s Vineyard network of churches, Jones admitted to a moral failure and was removed from his leadership position. Later, Mike Bickle stated publicly that he had promoted Jones improperly. He admitted that his church’s emphasis on prophecy and mystical experiences had been unhealthy and destructive” (Grady, p. 103).
Pentecostal preacher Jamie Buckingham (1933-1992) was the author of 40 books that sold 20 million copies, editor-in-chief of Ministries Today magazine, a columnist for Charisma magazine, and pastor of the 2,000-member Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Florida.
Buckingham began his ministry as a Southern Baptist pastor, but after being “baptized by the spirit” at a Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship meeting, he became a Pentecostal.
Buckingham’s “spirit baptism” made him a radical ecumenist who called for unity between Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, and Pentecostals. In an article entitled “Bridge Builders” (Charisma, March 1992, p. 90), he said there is no higher calling than ecumenical bridge-building. He praised David Duplessis for building bridges between Pentecostals and Roman Catholics, and he praised Jewish rabbi Yechiel Eckstein for building bridges between Jews and Christians.
Buckingham taught that God has promised healing through Christ’s atonement, and when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1990, many Pentecostals, including Oral Roberts, prophesied his healing. Buckingham said that God told him personally that he was going to live to be “at least 100 years of age in good health and with a clear mind.” The April 1991 issue of Charisma magazine featured this testimony in “My Summer of Miracles.”
Note the following excerpt which shows how completely he had been deceived by the Word-Faith heresy:
“One day my wife … suddenly spoke aloud [and] said, ‘Your healing was purchased at the cross.’ … Here is what I discovered. YOU HAVE WHAT YOU SPEAK. If you want to change something, you must believe it enough to speak it. … If you talk poverty, you’ll have it. If you say you’re sick, you’ll be (and remain) sick. … despite what the doctors said, I refused to say ‘My cancer.’ It was not mine. It was the devil’s. I didn’t have cancer. I had Jesus. The cancer was trying to have me, but THE WORD OF GOD SAID I WAS HEALED THROUGH WHAT JESUS DID ON CALVARY. … I popped a videotape into my VCR and lay down on the sofa. … The tape was an Oral Roberts’ sermon … I came up off the sofa, shouting, ‘I’M HEALED!’ My wife leaped out of her chair and shouted, ‘Hallelujah!’ For the next 30 minutes all we did was walk around the house shouting thanks to God and proclaiming my healing” (Jamie Buckingham, “My Summer of Miracles,” Charisma, April 1991).
Ten months after the publication of this article, on February 17, 1992, Jamie Buckingham died of cancer about 40 years shy of his 100th birthday. Not only did Jamie Buckingham lead others astray with his false teaching, but he also deceived himself.
The Cathedral at Chapel Hill near Atlanta, Georgia, founded by Earl Paulk, has been plagued with moral scandals and radical false teaching. At the height of his power, Paulk was exceedingly influential. He authored many books, had a large television ministry, was the founder of the International Charismatic Bible Ministries, and was a “prophet” in Bill Hamon’s Christian International Network of Prophetic Ministries.
Paulk amalgamated the Word-Faith doctrine with Reconstructionist or Dominion theology and promoted it widely among Pentecostals. As for the Word-Faith doctrine, Paulk echoed Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland and others when he wrote: “Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, God has little gods. Until we comprehend that we are gods, and begin to act like little gods, we can’t manifest the Kingdom of God” (Paulk, Satan Unmasked, pp. 96, 97).
Paulk merged this Kingdom Now, Word-Faith theology (that Christians are little gods with the authority of Christ on earth) with the dominion doctrine the churches are to unify and retake the world from Satan before Christ returns. He promoted this teaching in books such as Satan Unmasked (1984), Held in the Heavens (1985), and Ultimate Kingdom (1986). Paulk wrote in his book The Wounded Body of Christ, “We need not wonder whether He [Jesus] will come back; HE CANNOT. Christ can only return when the people of God have reached that place of unity in which the Spirit and the Bride can say, ‘Come’” (p. 73).
By 1992, Chapel Hill Harvester Church had 12,000 members and was one of the most prosperous churches in America, but that year Don Paulk, who had taken over as senior pastor from his brother Earl, admitted having an “improper” relationship with a woman staffer. He resigned but was immediately reinstated by the church council.
Allegations were made by a group of women about sexual relationships with the Paulks, and in 2001, another female church member filed a lawsuit claiming that Paulk molested her when she was a child and teenager, but the accusations were denied and swept under the rug. In August 2005, long-time church member and soloist Mona Brewer and her husband Bobby, who was a major financial supporter of the church, filed a lawsuit against Earl Paulk alleging that she was manipulated into being his paramour for 14 years. Brewer said that the members were conditioned to give unconditional obedience to the pastor, who called himself “Archbishop Paulk,” and that he taught her that those who are spiritually exalted can have sexual relationships and it isn’t adultery. He called it “kingdom relationships.” She says that Paulk even shared her with family members and visiting charismatic preachers. This case was featured on CCN’s Paula Zahn Now on Jan. 19, 2006, but as of March 2006, Paulk’s television program was still broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network.
In 2000, Clarence McClendon, pastor of Church of the Harvest International in Los Angeles and prominent “bishop” in the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, divorced his wife and a mere week later married another woman. His first wife, who accused him of fathering a child out of wedlock, took their three children and moved to Hawaii, but Clarence went right on as if nothing had happened, and he had all of the support he needed. Charisma magazine observed that “in just a few months, members of his new congregation were dancing in the aisles in their new facility, and the talented young preacher was back on the conference circuit, no questions asked. ... McClendon enjoys the spotlight on Christian television, and he shares pulpits with top leaders in our movement” (Lee Grady, “Sin in the Camp,” Charisma, Feb. 2002).
In 2002 Roberts Liardon, pastor of Embassy Christian Center in Irvine, California, and influential Pentecostal author, acknowledged that he had “a homosexual relationship” (Charisma News, Jan. 31, 2002). He was back in the ministry within weeks.
In 2004, Douglas Goodman, head of Victory Christian Centre near London, England, was sentenced to three and a half years for indecent assault involving four female church members. The church subsequently closed after investigators accused Goodman of receiving unauthorized salary payments (“Hinn and Her,” TheStar.com, July 24, 2010).
On September 12, 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) had paid $425,000 in 1998 to Enoch Lonnie Ford, an employee at TBN, to keep him from going public with his allegation that they had a homosexual encounter. It was after Ford threatened to sue, that Crouch paid almost a half-million dollars to keep the matter quiet. TBN also paid thousands of dollars in debts that Ford had accrued. Crouch denied the allegations and tried to blacken the character of his accuser, which was not difficult to do, as Ford is a convicted sex and drug offender, but it seems very strange that Crouch would pay such a large sum to a man if there was no truth to his allegation. Ford wrote his testimony of the affair, but it was sealed by the courts after Crouch sued to have the matter squelched.
In 2004, Pentecostal “prophet” Paul Cain was exposed as a homosexual and an alcoholic (“Latter Rain Prophet of Renown Is Now Discredited,” The Plumbline, December 2004). A statement issued by Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, and Mike Bickel said: “Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration, which the three of us would oversee. However, Paul has resisted this process and has continued in his sin” (Special Bulletin, MorningStar Ministries, Oct, 19, 2004).
Eventually Cain admitted his sin, saying, “I have struggled in two particular areas, homosexuality and alcoholism, for an extended period of time. I apologize for denying these matters of truth, rather than readily admitting them” (“A Letter of Confession,” February 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20050225053035/http://www.paulcain.org/news.html).
For four decades Cain had claimed that he had no sexual feelings because “the Lord” had touched him during a visitation. He had told this story to many, including John Wimber, Mike Bickle, and David Pytches, author of Some Said It Thundered, and he had used this to impress people with his “prophetic mystique.”
In November 2006, Ted Haggard resigned as senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and as head of the National Association of Evangelicals on revelation of his exploits with a homosexual prostitute named Mike Jones. Though Haggard denied the accusation at first, he eventually admitted his “dark side.” A letter from Haggard was read to the New Life Church on November 5 in which the founding pastor admitted that he is “guilty of sexual immorality” and “a deceiver and a liar.” He said, “There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.”
Haggard is a charismatic, a New Evangelical, and a radical ecumenist. In October 2005 Haggard said, “New Life doesn’t try to ‘convert’ Catholics” and “the church would never discourage its members from becoming Catholic or attending Catholic Mass” (Berean Call, Jan. 2006).
In January 2009, Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor at New Life Church, disclosed that Haggard also had a homosexual relationship with a member of the church that “went on for a long period of time” (“Disgraced Pastor Faces More Gay Sex Allegations,” Associated Press, Jan. 24, 2009).
In 2007, wrongful termination suits were filed against Oral Roberts University by former professors alleging that the founder’s son Richard Roberts and his wife Lindsay misappropriated school money and committed other improprieties. According to the suit, they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund their lavish lifestyle, including a stable of horses for their daughters, a $29,400 trip to Orlando and the Bahamas aboard a university jet for a daughter and her friends, and a $39,000 shopping spree at one clothing store for Lindsay (“Healing ORU,” Christianity Today, September 2008). The suit also alleged that the Roberts’ home had been remodeled 11 times in 14 years, that Lindsay spent nights in the ORU guest house with an underage 16 year old male, and that she frequently had cell phone bills of more than $800 per month, with “hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. to underage males who had been provided phones at university expense” (“Oral Roberts University Faces the Blue Screen of Death,” shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2007/10/oral-roberts-university-faces-blue.html).
The professors were fired for trying to expose “the leader’s moral failings and financial improprieties.” On November 13, 2007, the tenured faculty of ORU approved a non-binding vote of no confidence in Richard, and he resigned as president on November 23. Lindsay is his second wife. He and his first wife, Patti, divorced in 1979.
Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks III
In August 2007 televangelist Juanita Bynum accused her husband, Thomas Weeks III, bishop of the Global Destiny Church in Atlanta, of pushing, beating, choking, and stomping her to the ground in a hotel parking lot.
In November 2008, a sheriff’s deputy served Weeks with a notice of eviction from the church property because the rent was nearly a half million dollars in arrears (“Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row,” Christianity Today, Jan. 15, 2009). Weeks was also forced to move out of his $2.5 million country club estate.
Bynum filed for bankruptcy, claiming that she was more than $5 million in debt (“Weeks able to resurrect his ministry,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 11, 2009). She lost possession, through foreclosure, of the $4.5 million compound that formerly housed her ministry.
In June 2008 Bynum and Weeks were divorced, six years after they married (it was the second marriage for both of them), and in 2012 Bynum admitted that she has had affairs with women (“Televangelist Juanita Bynum Confirms Sexual Affairs with Women,” Examiner.com, July 16, 2012).
In August 2011, Bynum typed a prayer in “tongues” on her Facebook page as follows: “We call on you Jesus. You are our help and our hope!!!! NDHDIUBGUGTRUCGNRTUGTIGRTIGRGBNRDRGNGGJNRIC. You are our help and our hope. RFSCNGUGHURGVHKTGHDKUNHSTNSVHGN you God. You are our help and our hope!!!” (“Televangelist Juanita Bynum Raises Brows with ‘Tongues’ Prayer,” Christian Post, Aug. 31, 2011).
This is the type of nonsense that has been part of the Pentecostal package since its inception at the turn of the 20th century. “Tongues” allegedly broke out at Charles Parham’s Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, in January 1901, led by a female student named Agnes Ozman. A reporter for the Topeka State Journal recorded the actual “tongues” of another female student, Lilian Thistlewaite. It went like this: “Euossa, Euossa, use rela sema calah mala kanah leulla ssage nalan. Ligle logle lazie logle. Ene mine mo, sah rah el me sah rah me” (Topeka State Journal, Jan. 9, 1901). This is exactly the type of “tongues” I have heard dozens of times at Pentecostal and charismatic meetings in various parts of the world, but it is nonsense. Biblical tongues were real languages that were spoken miraculously by those who had never learned the languages. This is what we see on the day of Pentecost, and it was a very great miracle.
Randy and Paula White
On August 23, 2007, Randy and Paula White, co-pastors of Without Walls International, a charismatic megachurch based in Tampa, Florida, announced that they were divorcing after 17 years of marriage. The couple blamed the two different directions their lives were going (“Interruption during Megapastors’ Divorce Announcement,” Tampa Tribune, Aug. 23, 2007). That is not a biblical reason for divorce. Christ gave only one legitimate cause, and that is fornication, yet the two said “the split involves no third party on either side.”
If they are going in two different directions, that is sin on both their parts. God says the wife is the husband’s help-meet, and she is to be the keeper of the home (Titus 2:4-5), and the husband is to “dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
Randy spent months commuting to Malibu, California, where he had a beachfront home. Paula, a preacher and motivational speaker, made speaking trips to San Antonio, where she had recently purchased a home and was “oversight pastor” to the Family Praise Center. She also traveled frequently to New York City where she had a Trump Tower condo and led monthly services at New Life by Design Empowerment Center.
This is disobedience to God’s Word, which forbids her to be a preacher or a pastor (1 Timothy 2:12). And this is not the first divorce for the two charismatic preachers. They have four children from previous marriages.
In reality they are sinning against God’s Word while pretending to be undergoing a “trial” as victims of circumstance, and this, sadly, is typical for charismatics today.
When Paula appeared on Carman’s show on Trinity Broadcasting Network on September 12 and 13, 2007, she was greeted with loud applause. She told the enthusiastic crowd, “Some of the greatest development in the men and women of God ... were those in adverse situation, those in opposition. ... You can either gravitate and put your hand to the plow and say, ‘Okay, God, I don’t get this one; I don’t even like this one. But still what do You have to say to me? I will not be moved.’”
Joseph and Job could say things like that and take a stand on simply trusting God in undeserved adversity, but when you are suffering for your own rebellion to the Scriptures that is an entirely different story!
“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” (1 Peter 2:20).
An article in the Tampa Tribune in May 2007 included statements by former Without Walls staff members who testified that the Whites had shifted their focus to money and fame. They preach a charismatic prosperity message and live lavishly. Their home in Tampa was valued at $2.22 million and the condo in New York, at $3.5 million.
By 2011, Without Walls International was truly “without walls” as the huge property in Lakeland was under foreclosure for non-payment.
In 2012, Paula White was appointed senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, following the death of Pastor Zachery Tims, who was found dead in a hotel room in New York City under suspicious circumstances.
In July 2012, Randy White returned as “bishop” of Without Walls in Tampa after “overcoming drug addiction and a suicide attempt” (Charisma, July 9, 2012).
In August 2008, the four-month long “Lakeland Outpouring” led by Todd Bentley ended in scandal. Some had prophesied that the healing crusade in Lakeland, Florida, was the beginning of a national revival and that entire cities would be “shut down.” In fact, it was the Lakeland Outpouring that was shut down after Bentley announced that he was separating from his wife (“Todd Bentley, Wife Separating,” Charisma, Aug. 12, 2008).
A week later it was further announced that Bentley was stepping down as head of Fresh Fire Ministries, after the ministry revealed that he had an “unhealthy relationship” with a female staffer (“Bentley Stepping Down,” OneNewsNow, Aug. 19, 2008).
In November 2008, the Fresh Fire board said that Bentley was guilty of adultery, and on March 9, 2009, Rick Joyner announced that Bentley had married the same “former employee” with whom he had had the inappropriate relationship.” Also, an investigation by World magazine found that two of the people that the Bentley ministry had reported as examples of his best healings had died of their diseases (“Heal or Heel,” World, May 23, 2009).
The Lakeland meetings began on April 2, 2008, at the Ignite Church, and continued nightly in various venues for more than three months, with Bentley dispensing his medicine by slamming people on the forehead, shoving them, flinging the Holy Spirit, yelling “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” crying out, “Come and get some,” and staggering around like a drunk. He kicked an elderly lady in the face, banged a crippled woman’s legs on the platform, kneed a man in the stomach, and hit another man so hard that a tooth popped out.
My friends, God has given us clear instructions in Scripture about healing, and James 5 does not describe a raucous “healing crusade.” We believe in divine healing for today, but we don’t believe in Pentecostal showmen who pretend to have apostolic healing gifts that they clearly do not possess. See “I Believe in Miracles”at this web site.
Also in August 2008 Michael Guglielmucci of the Assemblies of God in Australia admitted that he had been lying about having an advanced stage of cancer. For two years, Guglielmucci, a popular contemporary worship leader and former pastor, had claimed to have terminal cancer. He even recorded a song called “The Healer” that became a hit and was featured on Hillsong’s latest album. For two years he fooled even his wife and parents and closest friends into thinking that he had cancer. He sent e-mails to his wife from phony doctors, shaved his head, walked with a cane, and carried around an oxygen bottle. In one church performance that attracted one-third of a million hits on YouTube, he sang with an oxygen tube in his nose! He claimed that God gave him the song after he learned that he had “an aggressive form of cancer.”
Guglielmucci finally admitted that he faked cancer to hide a longtime addiction to pornography. He is the former pastor of one of Australia’s largest youth churches called Planetshakers. More recently he was the worship leader at Edge Church International, an Assemblies of God congregation pastored by his father, Danny.
Hillsong is the ministry of Hillsong Church in Sydney, the largest church in Australia and prominent in the contemporary worship field. Brian Houston, who co-pastors the church with his wife, was the head of AOG in Australia from 1997 to 2009.
Brian’s father, Frank Houston (d. 2004), was at the heart of another Pentecostal scandal when he was exposed in 1999 as a child molester by one of his victims. After trying unsuccessfully to pay off the victim with $10,000, Frank Houston confessed to that one incident, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. A Royal Commission investigation in October 2014 found that Frank had molested at least seven boys, and Brian Houston testified before the commission that he had no doubt there were others (“Hillsong leader Brian Houston breaks silence on paedophile father,” The Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Oct. 13, 2014).
The pedophilia began when Frank was a Pentecostal leader in New Zealand.
Riva and Zachary Tims
In July 2009, Riva and Zachary Tims, founders of the charismatic megachurch New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Florida, were divorced. This occurred two years after Zachary admitted a year-long affair with stripper Judy Nguyen. In August 2011, the 42-year-old pastor was found dead in a New York hotel room under suspicious circumstances. The Wall Street Journal reported that police suspected drug overdose and that an envelope of white powder believed to be narcotics was found on Tims, but his mother is fighting in court to have the record sealed, claiming that his “cause of death would be an embarrassment to her, his children, her grandchildren and his congregation.”
In December 2011, the twice-divorced Paula White was named pastor of New Destiny Christian Center.
In February 2010, “healing evangelist” Benny Hinn’s wife filed for divorce. On August 2, the National Inquirer published a photo of Hinn and Pentecostal preacher Paula White (who was divorced the previous year) walking hand-in-hand leaving a hotel in Rome. The accompanying story said that the two spent three nights in a five-star hotel which Hinn booked under a false name. Hinn admitted to being with White in Rome and having a “friendship” and an “inappropriate relationship” with her, but both parties claimed there was no affair.
He told a crowd in Oakland, California, that he and his wife had problems in their marriage for years and “could no longer exist in the same house” (“Benny Hinn Admits ‘Friendship’ with Paul White,” The Zimdiaspora, Aug. 11, 2010). Hinn also admitted that he and his wife had been separated for years.
Hinn’s divorce was finalized in December 2010, and in June 2012, Jack Hayford announced that he was going to perform the remarriage of the Hinns.
In September 2010 megachurch “bishop” Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta was accused of seducing four young men into sexual relationships in exchange for cars, clothes, and trips. Long settled out of court by paying the men.
In December 2011, Long’s second wife filed for divorce. Kenneth Samuel, who was the pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist before Long came there in 1987, said Long needs to step down. “Why continue to lead people when you are being dishonest? It shames the church, it shames the followers, and it shames him” (“Church’s Future Uncertain,” Associated Press, Dec. 6, 2011).
Long preaches and lives a prosperity gospel, driving a $350,000 Bentley, flying in a private jet, and living in a $1.4 million mansion.
In November 2015, Kong Hee, founder and senior pastor of a Pentecostal megachurch in Singapore, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for misappropriating church funds to support his wife’s pop singing career. Five other church leaders were given sentences ranging from 21 months to six years. The sum misappropriated by the leaders of City Harvest Church (CHC) was a whopping $35 million.
Corruption of this magnitude is rare in this city state which has a well-deserved reputation for law and order and sound justice. Leave it to a charismatic pastor to set the bar of corruption high and make Christianity a laughing-stock before the entire nation!
The pop singer, Ho Yeow Sun, was recently ordained as a pastor of the church. She will be able to carry on the family business while her husband is in prison. Michael Scales of New York’s Christian College performed the ordination, speaking the nonsensical words, “I pray when she speaks, fire will come out of her belly.” Ho Sun is a popular Chinese pop singer who lives a pop star’s lifestyle, complete with immodest dress, champagne parties, and very sensual rock videos. A friend who provides information that helps with my research said, “I looked at a few of her videos but could not present them because of their vile content.” A Baptist pastor friend in Singapore writes, “It was just last weekend that I came to know that the horrible and slutty music video (‘China Wine’) was actually aired live in church at CHC when it first came out. It is hard to imagine any husband willingly showing off his wife in church dressed like a whore, dancing like one, and worse, a pastor’s wife.”
Kong Hee and other leaders of City Harvest who have been convicted in Singapore’s no-nonsense courts still proclaim their innocence, though it was proven that they put millions of dollars into sham bond investments and tried to hide their deeds from the law. According to the Gospel Herald for Oct. 29, 2015, the church is standing with its crooked leaders (“City Harvest Founder Kong Hee Thanks Congregation for ‘Grace and Love’ as Wife Sun Ho Is Ordained as Pastor,” Oct. 29, 2015).
This demonstrates a lack of integrity across the entire congregation. They have been blinded and morally numbed by a heaping dose of mindless demonic mysticism served up through rock music, charismatic experiences, and false doctrine.
Both of Kong Hee’s major mentors, David Cho and Phil Pringle, have been indicted for mishandling ministry funds.
David Yonggi Cho
On February 20, 2014, David Yonggi Cho, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, long billed as the world’s largest church, was sentenced to three years in prison for breach of trust and corruption (“David Yonggi Cho,” The Gospel Herald, Feb. 21, 2014).
Cho was found guilty of causing $12 million in losses to the church by having officials buy stocks owned by his eldest son, Cho Hee-jun, at nearly four times market value.
David Cho’s three-year sentence was suspended, but he was ordered to pay a penalty of US $4.7 million.
Cho Hee-jun was also sentenced to three years for colluding with his father, and his sentence was not suspended. In 2011, Cho was accused by 29 of the church’s elders of embezzling US $20 million.
In his book The Fourth Dimension, Cho taught a Word-Faith heresy called “the Law of Incubation.” He claimed that believers can create reality by forming a precise mental picture of a goal, then speaking it into existence. It appears that this “law” isn’t working too well for him these days.
THE PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS: THE HISTORY AND THE ERROR. The 5th edition of this book, November 2014, is significantly enlarged and revised throughout. The Pentecostal-charismatic movement is one of the major building blocks of the end-time, one-world “church,” and young people in particular need to be informed and forewarned. The author was led to Christ by a Pentecostal in 1973 and has researched the movement ever since. He has built a large library on the subject, interviewed influential Pentecostals and charismatics, and attended churches and conferences with media credentials in many parts of the world. The book deals with the history of Pentecostalism beginning at the turn of the 20th century, the Latter Rain Covenant, major Pentecostal healing evangelists, the Sharon Schools and the New Order of the Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, the charismatic movement, the Word-Faith movement, the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Pentecostal prophets, the Third Wave, and recent Pentecostal and charismatic scandals. The book deals extensively with the theological errors of the Pentecostal-charismatic movements (exalting experience over Scripture, emphasis on the miraculous, the continuation of Messianic and apostolic miracles and sign gifts, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire, tongues speaking, physical healing guaranteed in the atonement, spirit slaying, spirit drunkenness, visions of Jesus, trips to heaven, women preachers, and ecumenism). The final section of the book answers the question: “Why are people deluded by Pentecostal-Charismatic error?” David and Tami Lee, former Pentecostals, after reviewing a section of the book said: “Very well done! We pray God will use it to open the eyes of many and to help keep many of His children out of such deception.” A former charismatic, said, “The book is excellent and I have no doubt whatever that the Lord is going to use it in a mighty way. Amen!!” 487 pages, available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature -- www.wayoflife.org
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