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The Executive Committee for the 2000 conference was composed of Vinson Synan (Pentecostal), Nancy Kellar (Roman Catholic nun), Jim Jackson (Christian Believers United), and Vernon Stoop (United Church of Christ pastor). There were many well-known speakers, including Jack Hayford, Pat Robertson, Stephen Hill, John Kilpatrick, Cindy Jacobs, John Arnott, Steve Strang, Richard Roberts, Michael Scanlan, Tom Forrest, Thomas Trask, and Rick Joyner.
The stated goals of the meetings in a nutshell are threefold: (1) To promote and celebrate the Charismatic movement, (2) to promote ecumenical unity between all denominations, and (3) to further world evangelism. The grand focus, though, is ecumenical unity.
These conferences present a microcosm of the end-times ecumenical movement. The fact that the error is intermingled with and glossed over with truth makes the ecumenical movement attractive to large numbers of people and extremely dangerous.
After attending three of these massive conferences, I am convinced that the term that best describes them is “confusion.”
CONFUSION ABOUT THE GOSPEL
First of all, there was confusion about the very gospel itself. One would think that a conference allegedly dealing with world evangelism would be clear about the message of salvation, but this is not the case. Nowhere was the gospel defined in the conference literature. None of the speakers during the main evening sessions defined the gospel. Many of them referred to it, but none of them plainly described what salvation is in such a manner that the listeners would understand how they need to be born again. Why was this? Because the meeting is ecumenical and involves participants from dozens of denominations, and there are a variety of gospels represented. To have clarified the gospel would have destroyed the ecumenical unity.
I TOOK MY OWN SURVEY during the three days in St. Louis, by interviewing representatives of the ministries which had displays in the exhibit hall. I focused on the Roman Catholics, since we were told that these particular Catholics “love and know the Lord.” These are the “evangelical Catholics” that we have heard about. I ASKED THE FOLLOWING SIMPLE QUESTION TO EACH INDIVIDUAL: “WHEN WERE YOU BORN AGAIN?” Not one Catholic that I interviewed gave me a scriptural answer to this most important question. A nun from Notre Dame said, “I’ve always been in love with God.” A woman who teaches in the art department at the Franciscan University of Steubenville said she was born again either when she saw a miraculous light shining around the priest at her first mass when she was 15 years old or at her first charismatic retreat in 1972. A representative of the Chariscenter USA told me he was born again when he was baptized as a teenager and that his children were born again when they were baptized as infants. A representative of Marian Publishers was very puzzled when I asked him the question. He told me that “born again” is not a Catholic term. I reminded him that Jesus used the term in John 3. He then told me that he was born again when he was baptized as a baby and also when he was confirmed. One of the founders of Signs of the Times Apostolate told me she was born again when she was baptized, confirmed, and when she rededicated her life to God at age 21. Joseph, a lay “brother” in a Catholic order, told me he was born again when he attended a charismatic meeting in the 1970s during graduate school and that it was a gradual thing of becoming serious about God. A Catholic man who grew up in a Baptist church told me he was born again at confirmation.
One of the key speakers at these conferences is Tom Forrest, a priest who is headquartered in Rome and works closely with John Paul II as the head of Evangelization 2000. Forrest brought the concluding message in New Orleans in 1987, in Indianapolis in 1990, and again in St. Louis this year. His descriptions of evangelism illustrate the confusion which surrounds the gospel in the ecumenical-charismatic movement. In a message at New Orleans, for example, he said that he evangelizes by walking through the streets of Rome praying the “mysteries of the rosary” (which is largely a prayer to Mary) for the people he passes. This demonstrates that he understands neither salvation nor evangelism in a biblical sense, yet he is exalted as a Spirit-filled, evangelical Catholic. In Indianapolis, Forrest said that he praises God for purgatory, because he knows that unless there is a place where his sin can be purged he cannot go to Heaven. He is right about that but very confused about where that place of purging is. Hebrews says Jesus Christ, by his ONE offering on Calvary, has purged, sanctified, and perfected forever those who believe on Him (Heb. 9:26-28; 10:10,14). Sin is purged through the blood Christ shed at Calvary. That is the one and only place where sin is purged. If purgatory is necessary, it means Christ did not die for all our sins. If He did die for all our sins, purgatory is a lie.
HALF OF THE REGISTRANTS STOOD TO BE SAVED, BUT CONGRESS LEADERS SAID THERE WASN’T TIME TO EXPLAIN THE GOSPEL CLEARLY!
At the New Orleans conference in 1987, a very strange thing occurred during one of the evening sessions. It was the third night of the meeting, and by then the people not only had attended seven hours of evening sessions, but 12 hours of morning and afternoon sessions, as well. Each evening had a different theme, and the one for Friday was “Signs and Wonders.” I can’t testify that there were any signs, but there were definitely some wonders!
Throughout the conference the people were referred to as Christians, saints, children of God, and other terms which would indicate that all present were saved. For instance, Carl Richardson, one of the six speakers on Friday evening, said “You are sons of God, daughters of God, children of the king.” He made no qualifications to that statement, even though he knew he was speaking to a mixed multitude, at least one-half of which were Roman Catholic. The prophecies, too, were spoken in the first person, as if Jesus Christ himself were speaking, and invariably they would contain statements like this: “My children, I love you; my children, I have purchased you.”
One of the speakers on Friday (July 24, 1987) was Pentecostal evangelist Rienhard Bonnke. When he finished his sermon, he asked for those who felt they needed to be saved to stand. Half of the congregation stood! He seemed surprised and said that he wanted everyone to understand exactly what he was asking. He emphasized that he was asking those to stand who wanted to become Christians, who wanted to be saved. The fifteen to twenty thousand or more people continued to stand. He then led them in a simple sinner’s prayer, and while he was going through it, even people seated all around us who weren’t standing repeated the sinner’s prayer.
The next day at the press conference with Vinson Synan (Pentecostal) and David Sklorenko (Roman Catholic), conference chairman and director, Dennis Costella of Fundamental Evangelistic Association inquired about the confusion which surrounded the matter of salvation at the conference. Following is the strange answer that Synan gave:
COSTELLA: “In the plenary sessions during the first part of the week, the speakers and all of the officients, everybody has been referring to the congress and the participants continually as being believers, as Christians, the saints, and so forth, you know. Why did, it seemed to me at least, nearly half the congregation last night stand to receive Christ as their Savior and to be born again? Was this response surprising to the leadership of this conference? And not only those who were standing but many of those that were still seated were praying the sinners prayer. I don’t understand this.”
SYNAN: “It would be surprising to the Protestants here who understand the language of evangelicalism and the altar call tradition. I think the Catholics, and PROBABLY THE MAJORITY WHO WERE STANDING WERE CATHOLICS, WHO WOULD SEE THIS AS A KIND OF A RENEWAL OF THEIR BAPTISMAL VOWS, OR RECEIVING JESUS TONIGHT LIKE [THEY] DO EVERY SUNDAY...”
COSTELLA: “Can I follow up a little bit on that? Well then, wouldn’t it seem that something as major as the definition of the gospel itself and what effects or what brings about the conversion of a lost soul to where they are saved, if there is that much difference and misunderstanding among Catholics and Protestants at this congress, wouldn’t it be crucial to, not just a workshop but a plenary session to speak definitively as to what the gospel message is so that there isn't this confusion?”
SYNAN: “Well, you know, it took me 52 years to come to my understanding of what Pentecostal theology is. And it probably took Dave [Sklorenko, Roman Catholic Director of the Congress] 48 years to understand what his is. We can’t in one night get a crystal clear understanding on the part of everyone, because we come from different traditions.”
COSTELLA: “But the congress won’t speak to this seeming contradiction or misunderstanding to try to clarify that?”
SYNAN: “WELL, WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO DO THAT.”
Isn’t that amazing! Synan (who was also the chairman of the conference this month in St. Louis) confused the simple preaching of the gospel with coming to a full doctrinal understanding of Bible truth, then said that they didn’t have time to speak to the misunderstanding and confusion which was obviously present in the minds of a great mass of those attending the conference. It was a conference on world evangelization, but they didn’t have time to speak clearly about the gospel itself. The 40,000 people in New Orleans were being exhorted again and again to go forth and evangelize the world, but at least half of them didn’t have a clear understanding about their own salvation. What confusion! And yet nothing has changed 13 years later when the same organization brought together yet another conference this month in St. Louis.
My friends, do not be deceived by the ecumenical-charismatic movement. Any movement that can receive the Roman Catholic Church is terribly confused about the very gospel itself.
CONFUSION ABOUT CHRISTIAN UNITY
The overriding theme of the St. Louis conference was Christian unity. Dozens of denominations were represented. The speakers included Roman Catholics, Foursquare Pentecostal, Church of Christ, Church of God, Assemblies of God, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, even Baptists.
The Roman Catholic presence in St. Louis was overwhelming. Though I was not able to get the exact statistics, roughly 50% of the participants in New Orleans and Indianapolis were Catholic; and it appeared that the percentage of Catholics in St. Louis was even higher. Many priests and nuns participated. At least 23 of the speakers were Roman Catholic. There were hundreds of books for sale on every facet of Catholic doctrine and practice, including the papacy, Mariolatry, the Saints, and Purgatory. There were rosaries and Madonnas for sale. There were travel agencies that specialize in arranging pilgrimages to Mary shrines.
Most of the 100 or more speakers emphasized the theme of unity. The following examples could be multiplied many times:
“We have people [in St. Louis] from the whole body of Christ--Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, non-denominationals. . . . In spite of our theological differences Jesus prayed that we may be one. . . . God is breaking down the barriers that we might show the world our unity” (Vinson Synan, Pentecostal).
“We must do it [reach the world for Christ] the only way it can be done; we must do it TOGETHER” (Priest Tom Forrest, Roman Catholic).
“The various denominations represent the flavors of ice cream before God. . . . Until we become intolerant of the sin that divides us, we don’t know the heart of Jesus” (Canon Charles Fulton Jr., Episcopal).
“We need to receive all groups--Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist. I admire the pope. We are not reconciled with God unless we can accept others no matter what denomination” (Bishop Samuel Green, Church of God in Christ).
“A strong prophetic word in Kansas City in 1977 has motivated us all these years. It was, ‘Weep and mourn, for the body of my son is broken.’ We must confess our sins in how we have broken the body of Christ through division” (Nancy Kellar, Roman Catholic nun).
“I don’t care about denominations. There is only one church. . . . 100 and more denominations have attended the revival in Brownsville” (Steve Hill, Evangelist, Assemblies of God).
“When revival came, God shook up our theology” (John Arnott, Pastor, Toronto Airport Church).
“God wants to fool with your theology. . . . I will never criticize anyone anymore” (John Kilpatrick, Pastor, Brownsville Assembly of God, Pensacola, Florida).
“We need to have some Catholic charismatics come into our Baptist churches to teach us how to worship” (Pat Robertson, Christian Broadcasting Network, 700 Club).
The Charismatic world has exactly the same goals as Promise Keepers and every other facet of the ecumenical movement: They want to break down the walls between denominations. They downplay doctrine and exalt unity, but the Bible says doctrine is extremely important to God. The term “doctrine” appears 56 times in the King James Bible. The first characteristic of the church at Jerusalem which is described for us by the Holy Spirit is that it “continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine” (Acts 2:42). The one faith, the body of doctrinal truth, was given to the Apostles and enshrined in the New Testament Scriptures. From that time to now, churches are commissioned to stand strictly upon that same doctrinal faith. No modifications are to be made. No changes are to be accepted. Those who deviate from the apostolic doctrinal faith are to be rejected and avoided (Romans 16:17; 1 Tim. 1:3; 4:6; 2 John 9-11).
What about the so-called “non-essential” doctrines? When Paul wrote to Timothy to instruct him in the work of the church, he did not tell him to “lighten up” and to ignore doctrinal differences. He solemnly instructed him to remain absolutely steadfast in the apostolic doctrine and not to allow ANY other doctrine to be taught.
“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach NO OTHER DOCTRINE” (1 Timothy 1:3).
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou KEEP THIS COMMANDMENT WITHOUT SPOT, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 6:13,14).
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, THE SAME commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
This is how important doctrine is to be to every Christian and especially to church leaders; and when doctrine is treated this seriously, divisions naturally occur. If that were not God’s will, He would not have given these commandments. According to the Bible, there is something far more evil than disunity and that is compromise of the truth of God’s Word. The Bereans were commended for carefully testing everything by the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). We are told to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21), to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), to judge all preaching (1 Cor. 14:29).
The Charismatic movement is supposed to be the Holy Spirit movement, but one of the names of the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 4:6). When He comes in His convicting, saving, and sanctifying power, He also comes with Truth. One clear biblical evidence that the Charismatic-ecumenical movement is not of God is its doctrinal carelessness. Those who have charismatic experiences might have powerful religious adventures and might become better people in a moral and religious sense; they might “feel” closer to God; but they continue in their false doctrines and they develop a conviction that it is even wrong to contend for doctrinal truth.
The Holy Spirit of God, who has commanded that His people “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” is not the author of ecumenical confusion.
CONFUSION ABOUT TONGUES
Another area of confusion that I observed in St. Louis was in the area of speaking in tongues, and it should be noted that this confusion is increasing greatly throughout the Christian world. Jack Hayford’s book on tongues was published a few years ago by a non-Pentecostal publisher, and in St. Louis he reported that many non-Pentecostals and non-Charismatics have learned to “speak in tongues” by reading his book. The Charismatic phenomena are increasing rapidly in non-Pentecostal groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention. In Christianity Today, May 16, 1986, Pastor Don LeMaster of the West Lauderdale Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, estimated that five percent of SBC congregations were openly charismatic at that time. That number has surely increased during the past 14 years. Charisma magazine, March 1999, contained a report entitled “Shaking Southern Baptist Tradition,” which gave many examples of charismatic Southern Baptist congregations.
I remember being very perplexed about tongues as a new Christian. I was led to the Lord in the summer of 1973 by a Pentecostal man; and the night that happened in a motel room in Daytona Beach, Florida, he prayed that I would receive the gift of tongues. The next day we parted ways and I have never seen him again, but for the first few months after that I sought wisdom from the Lord on the subject of tongues. I visited Assemblies of God churches, attended a Nicky Cruz crusade, and diligently studied the issue in the Bible. Instead of giving me the gift of tongues, though, the Lord gave me the understanding that it was a temporary gift that is not for today.
The reasons I rejected the tongues of the modern Pentecostal-Charismatic movement 27 years ago are the reasons I reject the “tongues” I witnessed in St. Louis this week. Consider four of those reasons:
CHARISMATIC TONGUES CAN BE LEARNED
According to the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, tongues speaking is something that can be taught. At the New Orleans conference in 1987, the participants were invited to attend “after glow” sessions following the evening meetings. At these sessions, the people were instructed in how to be “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and “speak in tongues.” First they were all led in a sinner’s prayer, then they were proclaimed “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Next they were instructed simply to open their minds and mouths and to speak gibberish, believing that God would turn this into “tongues.”
In St. Louis, Catholic Bishop Sam Jacobs of Alexander, Louisiana, taught the people simply to open their mouths and begin talking like babies. He said that once they learned to speak in baby “tongues,” they could eventually learn to speak as adults. Jack Hayford said much the same thing. When his daughter was worried that her “tongues” was not a real language, he encouraged her that she had to “start somewhere” and that she should ask God to increase her ability.
My friends, this business of learning to speak in tongues is nothing more than absolute nonsense. There is not even a hint in the Bible that the gift of tongues can be taught to someone or that those who received the gift in the apostolic churches had to develop it as if they were actually learning to speak. If this is not unscriptural heresy, there is no such thing. God commands that His people reject such things. Those who ignore the Bible’s teaching and rush on in an attempt to receive a Charismatic experience open themselves to great delusion.
CHARISMATIC TONGUES DO NOT HAVE TO BE PRACTISED UNDER THE DIRECTIONS OF 1 CORINTHIANS 14
Charismatic tongues-speaking was practiced throughout the conferences in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and St. Louis; but it was never done in obedience to the apostolic commandments of 1 Corinthians 14. Following are the rules that the Apostle Paul gave about the use of tongues in a Christian meeting:
1. Tongues can only be spoken by one or two individuals, three at the most; and they must speak one by one in turn and not at the same time (v. 27). Mass tongues speaking is confusion and is forbidden by God (vv. 23,33).
2. Tongues can only be spoken if they are accompanied by interpretation (v. 27,28).
3. Tongues can only be spoken by men (v. 34).
All three of these apostolic rules are blatantly ignored at modern charismatic meetings.
CHARISMATIC TONGUES ARE NOT A REAL LANGUAGE
The tongues of the New Testament were real earthly languages. It was a divinely-given ability to speak a language which the person had never learned, and thus was a miraculous sign. That’s what Acts 2 plainly says. Consider:
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that EVERY MAN HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And HOW HEAR WE EVERY MAN IN OUR OWN TONGUE, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:4-8).
Early Pentecostal leaders understood this and claimed that their tongues were real earthly languages. They even thought they would be able to go to foreign mission fields and witness through miraculous tongues without having to learn the languages. Those who attempted this, though, returned bitterly disappointed!
“Alfred G. Garr and his wife went to the Far East with the conviction that they could preach the gospel in 'the Indian and Chinese languages.’ Lucy Farrow went to Africa and returned after seven months during which she was alleged to have preached to the natives in their own 'Kru language.’ The German pastor and analyst Oskar Pfister reported the case of a Pentecostal... ‘Simon,’ who had planned to go to China using tongues for preaching. Numerous other Pentecostal missionaries went abroad believing they had the miraculous ability to speak in the languages of those to whom they were sent. These Pentecostal claims were well known at the time. S.C. Todd of the Bible Missionary Society investigated eighteen Pentecostals who went to Japan, China, and India ‘expecting to preach to the natives in those countries in their own tongue,’ and found that by their own admission ‘in no single instance have [they] been able to do so.’ As these and other missionaries returned in disappointment and failure, Pentecostals were compelled to rethink their original view of speaking in tongues” (Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism).
The conclusion was soon reached by the early Pentecostals that their “tongues” were not earthly languages, but a “heavenly” or special prayer language; and those are the terms we heard frequently at the conferences in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and St. Louis. Yet the tongues that I heard in these conferences were not languages of any sort, but merely repetitious mumblings that anyone could imitate. Larry Lea supposedly spoke in tongues in Indianapolis, and this is a key example of what is being passed off for tongues in the Charismatic movement. It went something like this: “Bubblyida bubblyida hallelujah bubblyida hallabubbly shallabubblyida kolabubblyida glooooory hallelujah bubblyida.” Nancy Kellar, a Roman Catholic nun who was on the executive committee of the St. Louis meeting this month, spoke in “tongues” on Thursday evening. Her tongues went like this: “Shananaa leea, shananaa higha, shananaa nanaa, shananaa leea…” repeated over and over.
If you think I’m making fun of these people, you are wrong. This is taken directly from the audio tapes of the messages. If these are languages, they certainly have a simple vocabulary! My children had a more complex language than that when they were still toddlers.
James Robison, a Southern Baptist evangelist who became a Charismatic some years ago, spoke at New Orleans in 1987, and though he believes in tongues speaking for today he warned that most of it is merely gibberish:
“Most tongues speaking and praying I hear is not in the Spirit. It’s in the flesh. It’s accommodating, because so much pressure was heaped on people to conform that they finally give in and begin imitating each other. They don’t have a language of the Spirit; they've got tragedy. There’s no power; there’s no energy; there’s no life; there’s just a bunch of gibberish! It’s very sad.”
At the press conference two days later, I referred to this statement in questioning Vinson Synan about the tongues which were being spoken at the conference, and I asked Synan and Sklorenko if they “believed that much of the unintelligible noises which are being made by the people could be human induced?” This touched a sore spot, and I was attacked even by members of the press. Two of them angrily said that they did not believe Robison said such a thing. After these two individuals calmed down somewhat, Synan challenged me to prove that the tongues at the conference were not real languages, saying:
“If I hear a guy from India speaking Hindi, to me that's unintelligible babbling. It may be a perfectly good language. And how do you know, or how does anyone know, what language these people may be speaking in? I mean, can you prove that?”
The answer to Synan’s challenge is not difficult. In the church we started in South Asia there are at least ten different mother tongues among the members. Though I do not understand most of these, I recognize immediately that a real language is being spoken. You can hear the many different words; even a small child has a vocabulary of hundreds of different words in his language. I hear the precise intonation; the sentence and thought structure as phrases, clauses and sentences are started and stopped and new ones are started; the punctuation. Every language and all normal speech is composed of these familiar traits.
The “tongues” which are spoken in the modern Charismatic movement are not languages. They were not earthly languages, nor heavenly languages, nor prayer languages, nor languages of any sort whatsoever. They are unintelligible mutterings; repetitious silliness. At best they are pathetic attempts to release the control of the tongue and imitate a divine miracle.
CHARISMATIC TONGUES IGNORE THE PURPOSE OF BIBLICAL TONGUES, WHICH WAS A SIGN TO THE JEWISH NATION
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, tells us exactly why God gave tongues to the early churches:
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Corinthians 14:20-22).
In this passage Paul was trying to make the Corinthian church understand God’s purpose in giving tongues. He quotes a prophecy from Isaiah 28 and applies it to New Testament tongues. The prophecy was that God would speak in foreign tongues to the Jewish nation as a sign, yet they would not believe it. THUS, TONGUES WERE A SIGN TO THE NATION ISRAEL. Israel rejected that sign as they did the sign of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; and they continued stubbornly in their blindness and unbelief. God turned to the Gentiles to take out of the Gentile nations a people for his name. That is what God has been doing these past 2,000 years since the ascension of Christ. That is what the “church age” is all about. One day God will again turn His attention to the nation Israel and the prophecies for Israel will be fulfilled literally during the Great Tribulation, the glorious return of Christ, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
The purpose for tongues soon ceased as the gospel was carried to the Gentiles in the ends of the earth. This is why we see so little about tongues after Pentecost. There are a couple of other mentions in Acts (with Jews present each time), then the references in 1 Corinthians 12-14. That is all. That is all God says about tongues in the entire New Testament! And most of what is said is corrective.
Friends, the miraculous tongues of the first century were not “bubblyida bubblyida bubblyida bubblyida”! Apostolic tongues were not something that could be taught or learned. They did not start with baby languages.
Beware of the confusion of modern “tongues.”
CONFUSION ABOUT PHYSICAL HEALING
There was great confusion about healing at Celebration Jesus 2000. Richard Roberts spoke on Thursday evening and made the claim, “If we don’t have healing to confirm the preaching, we don’t have the full gospel.” He went on to say that Jesus hates sickness and that He died to heal all sicknesses. Richard’s father, Oral Roberts, is one of the pioneers of the “faith healing” movement. His ministry was originally called Healing Waters. His first book, published in 1947, was titled If You Need Healing--Do These Things! He listed six steps to deliverance, the first being, “Know that God’s will is to heal you.” In the September 1976, issue of Abundant Life magazine, Roberts made the following statements:
“Sickness is part of the curse and Jesus came to destroy the curse. He suffered in our stead because he did not want us to suffer disease. He took our specific diseases and infirmities upon his own sinless, perfect body in complete payment for the penalty of sin.”
“I know it is God’s highest wish for you to be in health.”
“Sickness is not part of God’s plan and not devised by God’s will.”
“Some ministers are still praying, Father, if it be thy will, heal. I wonder if they could be sued for theological malpractice? Well, it’s a thought” (Oral Roberts, “Why I know that God wants to heal you,” Abundant Life, Sept. 1976).
Oral Roberts also pioneered the “seed faith” concept that those who give money to his ministry will reap money back. In the early 1950s, Roberts began to promise his followers that their financial gifts would be returned to them by God seven fold.
Oral is still alive, but Richard has taken his place as head of Oral Roberts’ University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he follows in his father’s footsteps by teaching that healing and prosperity are promised by Christ. In St. Louis, Richard told the people, “Let us believe for healing to flow.” He than began to rebuke sickness. “I come against every sickness, every disease. I bind it in Jesus’ name. I speak to it. I command it to go. Pain is leaving the neck now. Go, you foul, tormenting thing! I speak to cancer. You foul, tormenting cancer, go in Jesus’ name! Every tumor dissolve in Jesus’ name.” He invited the people to receive healing, but while there was much commotion and noise and “spirit slaying” and laughter and such things, there was no evidence that any one was actually healed of an organic disease. There were many cripples attending in wheelchairs, but they did not find deliverance.
The modern charismatic healing movement is a great deception. While we know that God does often heal in answer to prayer and we have witnessed and experienced such healings, the Charismatic healing movement itself is a sham. Many times through the years medical doctors have attempted to find evidence of healings that were claimed by people attending Oral Roberts crusades and they have been unsuccessful. A physician in Toronto, Canada, examined 30 people who passed through Roberts’ healing line, and he found no case of healing “that could not be explained, in terms of psychological shock or straight hysteria.” At least one of the 30 had died. Disasters have repeatedly overtaken Roberts’ healing crusades. On September 8, 1950, in Amarillo, Texas, a 64-year-old man died when he ran from the tent as it was being buffeted by a wind storm. Two days later, another wind storm destroyed the crusade tent and sent 50 people to the hospital. In 1951 an Alabama businessman died while attending a Roberts crusade in Atlanta. In 1955 Jonas Rider died during a Calgary, Alberta, Canada, crusade. In 1956, Mary Vonderscher died twelve hours after appearing on Robert’s television program to testify of her healing. In January 1959, a 64-year-old man died during a campaign in Oakland, California. In May 1959, a three-year-old girl died during a healing crusade in Fayetteville, North Carolina. An elderly Indian woman died on her way to that crusade. In July 1959, a woman died after believing herself healed in a Roberts crusade.
Not only has Roberts been unable to heal strangers, he has been unable to heal his own family. In 1984, a grandson that was named after him (the son of Richard and his second wife, Lindsay) died two days after birth, in spite of special prayers by many important Charismatic faith healers.
We want our readers to understand that we are not gloating over the tragedies which have befallen Oral Roberts. These are sad things, and there is no joy in relating them. The reason we mention them is that he has made claims that must be taken seriously. If healing is in the atonement, if special healing powers belong to Christians today, if God wills that the Christian be healthy and prosperous, if sickness is never God’s will, such will be evident in the reality of the Christian life. These facts from Roberts’ own life, though, show that such things are not true. His life witnesses the same problems, the same sicknesses, the same afflictions which befall Christians which do not believe Pentecostal-healing doctrine, who believe in a cessation of the apostolic sign gifts.
The same can be said for all of the other charismatic leaders who teach that healing is promised by Jesus Christ.
God has not promised health and financial prosperity, and it is wickedness and confusion, therefore, to make such promises.
For more about physical healing see our book Is Healing in the Atonement, which is available at the Way of Life Literature web site under the Charismatic section of the End Times Apostasy Database.
CONFUSION ABOUT SPIRITUAL WARFARE
One of the focuses of Celebration Jesus 2000 was spiritual warfare. Many of the leaders in the Charismatic spiritual warfare movement were featured at the conferences in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, including Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, and Larry Lea. The movement practices all sorts of unscriptural things, such as identifying and binding territorial spirits, marching around objects or people to claim them for God, “holy laughter,” taking territory from the devil by driving stakes into the ground, etc.
Cindy Jacobs, who heads up a ministry called Generals of Intercession, is a middle-aged mother who turns into a screaming dynamo when she preaches and “prophesies.” Jacobs is not afraid to disobey the plain commands of the Bible which forbid a woman to teach or usurp authority over men (1 Timothy 2; 1 Corinthians 14). In St. Louis she said that she has preached all over the world and that she is calling on pastors to stand up and fight for America. She said that last January she spoke to pastors in Denver and told them they had to start 24 hour prayer meetings. She claimed that God laid upon her heart the idea to gather together a group of prophets and to arrange 40 days of praise. She invited Peter Wagner to be the “apostle” of the group. Much of her warfare is directed toward political, judicial, and social ills, such as abortion and prayer in public schools, but this is not the type of thing that was done by the Apostles and the early churches. Jacobs said, “We have lost the war [for America] at the judicial level.” That is not true. The battle for America has been lost at the church level. The root problem with America’s deep moral sickness is the apostasy in the churches. America does not have the fear of God because the churches are not teaching the fear of God, and that is because the pastors are apostates and compromisers. The root problem in America is the same as that of Israel of old. God told Jeremiah that it was the prophets of Israel who had produced profaneness throughout the land (Jer. 23:15). Cindy Jacobs can’t help solve the root problem because she is part of it. She openly disobeys the Bible by putting herself into a teaching and leadership position over men in the churches. Even worse, she doesn’t know the difference between a false and a true church or even between a false and a true Christian. In her messages in St. Louis she accepted the Roman Catholics (who formed a majority of those in attendance) as genuine brethren in Christ and attempted to get them involved in spiritual warfare even though they have never been born again scripturally and they practice idolatrous acts such as praying to Mary and accepting the pope as the “holy father” and the “vicar of Christ.”
CONFUSION ABOUT THE LATTER RAIN
One of the main themes of the St. Louis conference was the false Pentecostal concept of a “latter rain revival.” This is the idea that Christ’s return will be preceded by an end-times signs and wonders movement that will restore the supernatural gifts of the first century and will purify “the church.” Latter rain theology has taken many different forms, some more radically unscriptural than others, but “latter rain” theology in one form or another has been accepted by practically every aspect of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement throughout the century. The “latter rain” doctrine is built upon a faulty interpretation of Acts 2:17-21 and Joel 2:28-29 and a confusion of the dispensations of God’s sovereign purposes. Pentecostal teachers believe that Joel’s prophecy was partially fulfilled during Pentecost and the Apostolic miracles of the first century and that it is being further fulfilled in the 20th century Pentecostal movement, with its alleged miracle gifts and “signs and wonders.”
The 1910 book The Latter Rain Covenant by David Wesley Myland (1858-1943) was influential in popularizing the latter rain doctrine. Myland was a Methodist preacher who joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CAMA) in 1890. When he heard of the Azusa Street “outpouring” in 1906, he accepted the Pentecostal doctrine and was forced to leave the CAMA in 1912. Myland believed the Latter Rain Covenant was based on Deuteronomy 11:14, in which God promised to give Israel the early and latter rains if she would obey His law. Myland believed that this promise had a three-fold application: to the nation Israel and the land of Palestine, to the Christian life, and prophetically to a latter rain outpouring preceding Christ’s return. The term “latter rain” appears six times in the Old Testament, but it always refers to actual rain upon the land of Israel, and it is confusion to apply this to the church age. The only mention of the latter rain in the New Testament is in the book of James, and there is not even a hint in James 5:7 of the doctrine of an end times miracle working revival. It is something which must be read into the passage. The New Testament prophecies of the last part of this church age describe false miracles, not true ones (Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:7-12; Rev. 13:13).
Latter rain theology was prominent in St. Louis, both in the messages, in the prophecies, and in the music. In his welcome to the conference attendees on Thursday night, Vinson Synan said that the “rain is falling” and “signs and wonders are being done through the world.” Another speaker on Thursday night said, “We believe we are going to see the greatest revival in the history of the world. The whole earth shall be filled with the glory of God.” John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, said, “I believe revival is about to cover America. I believe God is about to take His people, all denominations, to a different level.” Cindy Jacobs said that there is going to be a massive revival and kids are going to fall on their knees by the tens of thousands in schools across the land.
Acts 2:17-21 is ripped from its context when it is made to support a charismatic signs and wonders end-times prophetic revival.
FIRST OF ALL, PETER SAYS THE JOEL PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED IN HIS DAY WITH THE EVENTS OF PENTECOST. Peter explained to those gathered before him on the day of Pentecost that the events they were witnessing, the tongues whereby “every man heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6) was prophesied by Joel. There are two parts to the prophecy which Peter cited, the prophesying, and the signs in the heavens. Peter tells us that the prophesying was fulfilled in his own day, at the beginning of the church age. We know from history and from Scripture that the last half of Joel’s prophecy will be fulfilled at the Lord’s coming. The heavenly signs are described in Revelation. The prophesying of Acts 2:17-18 was connected directly with the tongues and the prophesying which occurred on the day of Pentecost. It was connected with the ministry of the Apostles. The rest of the New Testament confirms this. Paul explains that tongues were a sign for the unbelieving Jewish nation (1 Corinthians 14:20-22). “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not...” This is cited from Isaiah 28:11-12, and Paul explains that it foretold the miraculous tongues of the Apostolic era which would be a sign to the Jews. As a nation they rejected the sign and were dispersed in A.D. 70 by the Roman armies. The sign passed away when its function was fulfilled. The great prophetic ministry of the Apostolic era also ceased when its function was fulfilled.
SECOND, THE “LAST DAYS” IS A PERIOD OF TIME WHICH BEGAN IN THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES AND WHICH EXTENDS THROUGHOUT THIS PRESENT CHURCH AGE AND INCLUDES THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE RETURN OF THE LORD. IT BEGINS WITH TRUE SIGNS AND REVELATION FROM GOD, AND IT ENDS WITH FALSE SIGNS AND REVELATION FROM THE DEVIL. The Apostle John said, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18). John taught that there will be an antichrist, singular, who will arise at the end of this age, and there are antichrists, plural, which will operate throughout. This describes the general course of the age. The New Testament Scriptures foretell an increasing apostasy as the church age progresses. Apostasy, a turning away from the apostolic faith, began during the days of the Apostles and it has increased and spread throughout the age. Ultimately it will blossom into the final apostasy described in Revelation 17-18.
The New Testament Scripture does not prophesy a revival of truth and biblical evangelism at the end of this age; it prophesies religious confusion and error. The Bible warns that the end of this age will be characterised by false miracles. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24; see also Matthew 24:11; 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10; Revelation 13:14). The Lord Jesus Christ said an evil generation seeketh after a sign (Matt. 12:39; 16:4). In light of these warnings, we are amazed that John Wimber conducted “signs and wonders conferences” in various parts of the world.
Beware of the confusion of “latter rain theology.”
CONFUSION ABOUT “SPIRIT SLAYING”
Another great confusion at Celebration Jesus 2000 was the focus on “spirit slaying.” It is also called “falling under the power,” “carpet time,” “Holy Spirit glue,” “soaking in the anointing,” and other things. This phenomenon was practiced in the evening meetings as well as in many of the morning and afternoon sessions, and hundreds of people experienced it. The “spirit slaying” is one of the chief “miracles” that the charismatic movement promotes.
At the end of the evening meeting on Friday night, for example, Assemblies of God evangelist Steve Hill, who led the famous charismatic revival in Pensacola, Florida, the last few years, invited the people forward in a confused invitation which was a mixture of receiving Christ, renewing your relationship with Christ, dedicating yourself to Christ, doing business with God, etc. He mentioned the gospel and the blood of Christ, but he did not plainly preach and explain the gospel and he did not plainly contrast the true gospel with the false sacramental gospel of Rome. In such an ecumenical environment, the preacher must make the gospel exceedingly plain or his listeners will merely re-interpret his words in terms of Roman Catholicism or the teaching of some other false church. We have already given an example of how this happened in New Orleans in 1987. Anyway, hundreds of people came forward on Friday night in St. Louis to have hands laid on them by the speakers, and many of them “fell under the power” and lay on the concrete floor of the convention center, some of them for a half hour and more. As Hills and Kilpatrick laid hands on people, they yelled “fire!” fire!” Some of those laying on the floor rolled around, some shook, some laughed almost hysterically, some wept, some smiled blissfully, some appeared to be unconscious.
The Saturday morning session led by John and Carol Arnott from Toronto, Canada, is another key illustration of the focus on “spirit slaying.” Arnott spoke for a few minutes, then invited pastors to come forward if they “felt they would die if they did not soon receive a touch from God.” He told them to say to God, “Why not me and why not now; I take it in the name of Jesus.” About 40 or 50 went up front, and John Arnott and his wife laid hands on them. Most of them fell on the floor. One continued standing but he started shaking almost violently and remained like that for a long time, until Carol Arnott laid hands on him and he fell to the floor. After laying hands on the pastors and while most of them were still on the floor, Arnott continued delivering his message to the crowd in his quiet manner; but as he was speaking his wife roamed around laying hands on people and “ministering” to those who were lying on the floor. It was very confusing, to say the least. Some people were laughing hysterically. Some were rolling around. Others were weeping or moaning very loudly. Carol Arnott was talking and yelling things. All the while, John was rambling on about how the Holy Spirit was preparing to send the greatest revival in history. From time to time he would pause in the midst of speaking and would shout, “FIRE! FIRE ON HER! FIRE ON HIM! FIRE LORD!” then he would continue speaking to the crowd as if nothing had happened.
Arnott made light of those who criticize the spirit slaying experience and who warn about the danger of receiving false spirits. He said that just like a father would not give a stone to a son who asks for bread, God will not give a false spirit to those who seek the Holy Spirit. This completely ignores repeated Scripture warnings such as 1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3,4. Arnott claims that the spirit slaying is “90% bad stuff going out and good stuff coming in”; 10% is prophetic, and about 1% is foreign that has to be dealt with by those in charge. He said that he used to believe that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman who would never force people to do things and would never treat people harshly, but he no longer believes that. He claimed that the reason God wants His people to submit themselves to being slain by the spirit is to surrender their pride and fear.
All of this is a great confusion and error. There is absolutely nothing like the Charismatic “spirit slaying” in the New Testament Scriptures.
New Testament examples of people falling down
1. Believers sometimes fell down before Christ to worship Him (Mt. 2:11; 18:26; Lk. 17:16; Jn. 11:32; 1 Cor. 14:25). The term “fall down” is sometimes used in Scripture to describe worship (Ps. 72:11; Is. 44:19; 46:6; Dan. 3:5; Mt. 4:9; Rev. 4:10; 5:8,14; 19:4).
2. The disciples fell down on their faces and were afraid on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:6).
3. The men who took Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went backward and fell down when he spoke the words, “I am he” (Jn. 18:6).
4. Saul fell to the ground when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4).
5. Ananias fell down when he was stricken of God for his sin (Acts 5:5).
6. John fell at Christ’s feet “as dead” in Rev. 1:17.
How are these examples different from that which is experienced in the Charismatic movement?
The instances of falling down in the New Testament have no similarity whatsoever with the “spirit slaying” phenomenon that is part and parcel with the Charismatic movement. In the New Testament there was no laying on of hands preceding the falling down. In fact, there was no human instrumentality whatsoever in any of the instances of falling in the Bible. There was no spastic jerking. There was no “Holy Spirit glue” which kept someone from rising. There was no laughter connected with the falling. There was no repetition of the falling. There was no teaching on falling. There were no people queuing up in lines waiting to fall. There were no repetitive choruses preparing people for mystical experiences. There was no one yelling “Fire!” and “More, Lord!” and such things.
Friends, I refuse to participate in or support any alleged “revival” that includes “Spirit slaying” or uncontrollable laughter or spiritual drunkenness or other manifestations which are so patently contrary to what we see in the New Testament Scriptures. Charismatic leaders say, “Don’t worry about the manifestations.” That is unscriptural and extremely dangerous advice. We are instructed to prove ALL things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Charismatic leaders say, “Just open up and don’t be so uptight; lighten up and let God do what He pleases.” That is unscriptural. We want God to be in absolute control of our lives and churches, but it is folly and rebellion to ignore the fact that God’s Word warns repeatedly of false spirits and false teachers. The Apostle Peter did not counsel us to open up and lighten up. Instead, he warned: “BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). To be vigilant is to be on alert, on guard, on the outlook for enemies and deception. This is the very opposite of the “spirit slaying” experience whereby the Christian allegedly “goes out under the power.” To be sober and vigilant means I will not submit myself to an experience whereby by consciousness and vigilance are violated.
Beware of the Charismatic ecumenical movement which is sweeping across the world.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4).
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