The phenomenon of “spiritual drunkenness” has been experienced from time to time throughout the history of the Pentecostal movement and it has become a prominent experience in recent Pentecostal-Charismatic “revivals.” There were cases of “spiritual drunkenness” in Aimee Semple McPherson’s early meetings (Epstein, Sister Aimee, p. 162).
This phenomenon was frequently manifested in Kenneth Hagin’s meetings, especially in the 1990s. At a conference in Chesterfield, Missouri, in October 1997, Hagin staggered around like a drunk, sticking his tongue out and wiggling it like a serpent. He hissed and panted, blowing on people, waving his arms at them, striking them on the head, while entire rows of people fell down or slid out of their seats in a drunken stupor as he lurched by. Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, Jr. also got “drunk” and rolled around on the floor, making strange noises and laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. I personally witnessed Hagin get “drunk in the spirit” at the New Life Victory Center in Huntington, West Virginia, on September 17, 1998. After he had preached for about ten minutes, Hagin began to argue that one of the demonstrations of the Spirit is drunkenness. At that point he stopped preaching and for about 25 minutes he staggered about, laughing, blowing on people, waving his arms, and otherwise acting drunk. He repeatedly tried to speak but was unable to do so. Large numbers of people in the crowd also began to laugh loudly and some fell to the floor or staggered about and acted foolishly like drunks. Kenneth Hagin, Jr., attempted to read from his father’s sermon notes, but he could not form the words and instead staggered all the way across the front of the church.
“Spiritual drunkenness” appeared in May 1993 at Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, Florida, where Pentecostal evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne called himself “the Holy Ghost Bartender” and people laughed hysterically and uncontrollably and staggered around like drunks.
Spiritual drunkenness appeared in June 1993 at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, where Pastor John Kilpatrick lay in a drunken stupor on the church platform for four hours and was so “drunk in the spirit” at other times as “the revival” progressed that he had to be carried out of the church in a wheelbarrow and when he tried to operate his car he ran into things.
Spiritual drunkenness appeared again in 1994 at the Airport Church in Toronto, Ontario. The wife of Guy Chevreau, one of the pastors at the Toronto Airport church, was drunk for two days when she first experienced the “revival.” During this 48-hour period they had company over for a meal, and instead of serving them in a sane and orderly manner, she threw hot fish around the table and then dumped a box of French fries in the middle of the table and pushed little piles of them to each person, all the time laughing hysterically.
In December 1997, the Toronto Airport Church sponsored a “Have Another Drink” Conference, and their web page announced:
“If anyone had any concern that the Have Another Drink conference this week would get off to a slow start, those fears were quickly squelched. Not five minutes into the week-long festivities, you could see the main speakers stumbling toward the front of the auditorium in a drunken stupor! Darrel Stott, John Scotland, Peter Jackson and Georgian Banov spent most of the morning session in a pile at the foot of the front row. … Ian Ross led the meeting in his typical fashion as he plodded along in a daze, trying to put together his thoughts enough to get his welcoming message across. ‘John asked that we give thought to uh.....something.....’ was about all the thought he could muster. ‘I’m so drunk, Janice (his wife) and I got the wrong teeth in this morning!’… Before Darrel Stott came up to speak, John Scotland, from Liverpool, England, was introduced. When asked what his thoughts were on what he expected of the week, he immediately grabbed the microphone and yelled ‘OOOOOOHHHH’ a few times before wobbling off to the side for prayer. We’re still checking, but we think he may have actually said something in the five minutes he spent on the stage, but we’re not too sure yet!”
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Every time “drunkenness” is mentioned in the Bible it is condemned. Oftentimes in the prophets, drunkenness is used to describe God’s judgment upon wickedness (i.e., Isa. 19:14; 29:9; 51:17; Jer. 13:13; 25:27; 48:26; Ezek. 23:33; 39:19. In Jeremiah 51:7 and Revelation 17:6, drunkenness is used to describe the effect of Babylon’s mystery religion.
The only case in the entire Bible of a man of God describing himself spiritually drunken is Jer. 23:9. “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.” But Jeremiah didn’t mean that he was staggering about like a drunk; he meant he was amazed and overwhelmed in the face of the judgment of God which he was prophesying. This case is nothing like what we see in a Rodney Howard-Browne meeting today, which is characterized by hysterical laughter and people acting in a ridiculous manner.
There is no instance in the New Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ or the apostles or early Christians staggering about in a drunken stupor, laughing and acting foolishly, unable to attend to necessary duties, unable to preach, unable even to stand up.
Those who support “spiritual drunkenness” quote Acts chapter 2 in an attempt to prove that the apostles were drunk in the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but this is nonsense. Those who said the disciples were “full of new wine” were mockers. They did not say the disciples were drunk because they were staggering about and slurred in speech and falling to the ground, because it is obvious that they were doing none of those things. Peter was able to speak clearly and to preach a powerful message. The mockers said the disciples were drunk because of the many languages that were used to preach the wonderful works of God that day and because they wanted to slander the servants of Christ. In his reply to these mockers, Peter plainly said, “FOR THESE ARE NOT DRUNKEN, AS YE SUPPOSE” (Acts 2:15).
Further, in Ephesians 5:18 Paul CONTRASTS drunkenness with the filling of the Spirit. The drunk is not in control of himself but is under the power of a foreign substance, whereas the Spirit-filled Christian is entirely in control of himself under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This interpretation is confirmed by the context, which commands duties requiring great soberness of mind and heart. For example, the one who is filled with the Holy Spirit according to the context of Ephesians 5, is one who walks circumspectly, meaning very carefully (Eph. 5:15). That is the exact opposite of being “drunk in the spirit.”
[This article is excerpted from the new book THE PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC MOVEMENTS: THE HISTORY AND THE ERROR. I have been examining and re-examining the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements for more than three decades since I was led to Christ by a Pentecostal in 1973 and began to seek God’s will about tongues-speaking and the miraculous gifts of the early churches. I have built a large library of materials on this subject and have interviewed Pentecostals and Charismatics and attended their churches in many parts of the world. I have also attended large Charismatic conferences with press credentials. I have approached these studies with an open mind in the sense of having a commitment only to the truth and not to anyone’s tradition. I am a member of an independent Baptist church but Baptist doctrine and practice is not my authority; the Bible is. Each fresh evaluation of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement has brought an increased conviction that it is unscriptural and dangerous. This book begins with my own experience with the Pentecostal movement. The next section deals with the history of the Pentecostal movement, beginning with a survey of miraculous signs from the second to the 18th centuries. We then examine the movements in the 19th century that led up to the creation of Pentecostalism and the outbreak of “tongues-speaking” at Charles Parham’s Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901, and at William Seymour’s Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. We examine some of the major Pentecostal denominations, the Latter Rain Covenent, the major Pentecostal healing evangelists, the Sharon Schools and the New Order of the Latter Rain, the Manifest Sons of God, the Word-Faith movement and its key leaders, the Charismatic Movement, the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Pentecostal Prophets, the Third Wave, and the recent Pentecostal scandals. We conclude the historical section with a look at the Laughing Revival. In the last section of the book we deal with the theological errors of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movements (exalting experience over Scripture, emphasis on the miraculous, Messianic and apostolic miracles can be reproduced, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire, exalting the Holy Spirit, tongues speaking is for today, sinless perfectionism, healing is 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.” And Mary Keating, also 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!!” 317 pages. $9.95. Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. 866-295-4143]
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