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The Word of Knowledge

OK, this might be a bit controversial, as I’m going to challenge a charismatic shibboleth…

I have had a blog entry in preparation for a couple of years now on the meaning of “word of knowledge”, as I am not sure that the what charismatics tend to use this phrase to mean is what Paul means when he uses it. Many charismatics use “word of knowledge” to refer to supernaturally obtained knowledge about a person. For example, when Jesus says to the woman at the well, “you have five husbands”, this would be seen as a “word of knowledge”. Personally I think that this would more naturally be called a gift of “prophecy” (Gk: propheteia) or even “revelation” (Gk: apocalypsis).

What’s more, there are some concerns I have with the way this gift is used. Very often it takes the form of announcing a specific fact about a non-specific person in a meeting. In other words, it starts with “there is someone here who…”. Now all the examples of “words of knowledge” that can be found in the Bible were directed specifically at the person they relate to. This meant they could be tested, at the very least by the recipient of the word of knowedge. And where Christians use any spiritual gift, that gift should be tested.

I think this non-person-speicific approach can result in “words of knowledge” that are very vague and therefore can be seen as a risk-free form of prophecy, where there is no come-back if it misses the mark. I sometimes hear what I call “words of statistical probablity” e.g. “there is someone here with a bad back” in a room of 500 people. People argue that it causes faith for healing to rise in the hearers. I would say that I have spoken to many for whom this type of utterance leads to skepticism. I have seen non-Christian magicians wow gullible people with probability tricks – “does the name ‘Steve’ mean anything to you?”. I’m not saying that God can’t give a specific prophecy without telling the prophet who it is for, but it just strikes me as out of keeping with the biblical precedents we have.

Anyway, I am not convinced we have enough exegetical material to know exactly what Paul means when he talks about a “word of knowledge”. It is only mentioned briefly in passing (1 Cor 12:8), and not given a definition. The Greek word for “knowledge” (gnosis) could refer to natural knowledge – the type you get by studying and learning, but also could refer to supernaturally revealed knowledge (hence the “gnostics”).

So which is it? Let’s survey the places the word occurs in 1 Corinthians to see whether it refers to knowledge obtained by natural means (i.e. being taught), or by supernatural revelation.

1 Cor 1:5 in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – probably natural knowledge

1 Cor 8:1 we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. – again probably natural knowledge

1 Cor 8:7 However, not all possess this knowledge. – again natural knowledge (also 1 Cor 8:10,11)

1 Cor 12:8 to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit – the verse in question. not enough information from the context to decide

1 Cor 13:2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. – could be either in this context.

1 Cor 13:8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – OK, now we have the feeling that Paul can use “knowledge” to refer to some kind of supernatural revelation. Surely we will not all be ignoramuses in heaven.

1 Cor 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? – I’ve seen lots of attempts to differentiate between these four terms. I have no idea who is right. Here’s my suggestion. Paul is saying: “revelation or knowledge … in other words … prophecy or teaching” i.e. revelation is another word for prophecy and knowledge is another word for teaching. Its only a guess though.

1 Cor 15:34 For some have no knowledge of God. – this is talking about personal knowledge rather than factual so doesn’t help us

I won’t bore you with all of Paul’s other uses of this term (and there are a lot), but suffice to say that on the whole when “knowledge” refers to knowledge of factual information rather than personal knowledge of God, its source seems to be through natural means. So someone teaches us doctrine, or we study the scriptures ourselves, and we come to have knowledge – knowledge of the truth about God, about doctrine, about the mystery of salvation. In other words, with the exception of 1 Cor 13:8, it seems Paul does not usually use knowledge to mean “something that I didn’t learn from any person or book – God dropped it into my head”. Prophecy or revelation are the words to describe that. What’s more, the knowledge Paul is usually talking about seems to be doctrinal in nature – which again is out of keeping with the idea of facts about people being the normal content of a “word of knowledge”.

So on balance I am tempted to think that the gift of knowledge refers to some who has a working understanding of the Bible and a good grasp of theology, who edifies the church by explaining things to people, whether it be one on one, in a small group context, or in a teaching ministry. They bring a “word of knowledge”, by applying that knowledge in a way that teaches people, and gives them insight to see and appreciate how the Bible applies to them, and to understand God and the gospel better. This is not a dry intellectual gift – the Holy Spirit is impressing these truths on them as they study the word so they can share them with others.

What prompted me to finally post about this was that I listened to Mark Driscoll preaching on 1 Cor 12 (listen here), and he takes a similar line, arguing that the person with this gift is a “book geek” who loves to study and research, and is over the moon at the arrival of a new parcel from Amazon. People with this gift assimilate loads of information and like to hear all sides of an argument. They become a “google for Jesus” as people come to them to ask difficult questions and they love to explain what they have learned in a way that is accessible. Although its a long sermon, its well worth listening to. He also explains in it that his position on the gifts is that he is a “charismatic with a seatbelt”, and his definition of how you know whether you are in a charismaniac church is hilarious (11 minutes in to the sermon). The discussion of the gift of knowledge is towards the end of the sermon.

Anyway, whatever the gift of “knowledge” really means, I like the idea of studying to be a “google for Jesus”. I think that kind of describes a lot of Christian bloggers – theology book lovers who are looking for people to share what they have read with.

http://www.wordandspirit.co.uk/blog/2006/08/11/the-word-of-knowledge/

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Marks of Abusive Religious Groups
By Rev. Keith Gibson

Often in cult ministry we focus on groups that deny central aspects of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, deity of Christ, salvation by grace etc. Many Christians believe that if they simply look at a doctrinal statement, they will be able to spot potentially harmful organizations. Such may not be the case. There are many groups, such as University Bible Fellowship and International Church of Christ which look very good on paper but are involved in practices that can prove spiritually damaging. Our Kansas City office has recently become involved with one such group. It is important that believers are able to move beyond the doctrinal statements to recognize other telltale signs of danger.

Elitism. Abusive religious groups see themselves as a cut above all others. Whether this manifests in a belief that they are the only true church or merely that they are the most dynamic and committed, other churches are viewed with suspicion and disdain.

Manipulation. Following closely on the heels of the elitism are subtle practices of manipulation. Most of the time, this is accomplished by limiting options. An easy way to understand this concept is to picture a rat in a maze. Though no one physically touches the rat to move it in a particular direction, the choices the rat is given are so limited that its course is essentially predetermined. Similarly, alternatives are presented to the member in such a way that only one choice is really possible. For instance, “Do you want to be wholehearted for Jesus or continue to love the world and run track?”. Obviously no one wants to be thought of as loving the world. But the thought is never allowed that the member might be able to glorify God by using God-given athletic abilities. By presenting the alternatives in this way, the leader of the group is able to conform the behavior of the members into his/her ideal. At the same time, the member feels like he/she is the one who made the decision. Thus it is not uncommon for members to protest that they are not being coerced. “I chose to quit track. No one made me do it.” Technically, they are right. However, the pressure applied made conformity inevitable, especially if one has already bought the message that this is the only true church.

Commitment to God = Commitment to Group. In abusive groups a subtle switch is made that causes commitment to the activities and beliefs of the group to equal commitment to God. This may be extremely difficult to spot at first because most of us express our commitment to God through faithfulness and ministry in our local church. The difference is one of degree. Imagine a student in college. Abusive groups may ask the student to lead small-group studies on multiple nights of the week. Other nights may be consumed with gatherings of the entire group and leadership training. On weekends the group has evangelistic outreach activities and of course there are regular special emphasis weeks. The student may find that their class work or family life is suffering under the burden. However, if he questions the amount the group is requiring he will be told he needs to stop loving the world and go wholeheartedly after God. Never is the thought allowed that God may actually want him to study or spend time with his family.

Rigidity. In abusive groups everything is black and white. There are few areas of conscience in which Christians can legitimately disagree. Related to this is a heavy emphasis on works. These groups rob members of intimacy with God for one can never do enough, sacrifice enough, follow the rules close enough to be sure that God has been satisfied. Many of the members of these groups live in a morbid self-reflection, consumed with worry over whether or not God can accept them today. Some members of the group, especially those who are new or close to the leadership, may actually feel that they ARE keeping all the rules. These members tend to become very judgmental of others in the group they perceive to be weaker. One young man, when I questioned why he had pressured another member to cut his hair a particular way, responded coldly, “Well I was worried about _____ because it didn’t look like he had left enough behind to me.”

Much more could be said including the use of guilt, milieu control and a host of other characteristics but the sample above should give the discerning Christian a foundation for recognizing the practices of spiritually abusive groups. Paul Martin has called these signs, “the footprints of the wolf”. In order for us to protect ourselves and our families one thing is certain, we must look deeper than the doctrinal statement.

Rev. Keith Gibson

http://www.arcapologetics.org/articles/article12.htm

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Understanding Spiritual Abuse
By M. E. Hagemann

Prologue
Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.

What is Spiritual Abuse?
For our purposes, it is enough to state that spiritual abuse is “the misuse of power, position and influence for the personal gain or egotistical needs of the leader or leaders of an organization or a movement.” There are many excellent books that have been written on this subject. Spiritual abuse, rooted in hyper-authoritarianism, is not a new phenomenon, it has been a part of religious life for centuries and elements of spiritual abuse can be found across the entire spectrum of Christian and quasi-Christian faith groups. Lately, it seems that spiritual abuse is becoming more common in Charismatic churches.

Spiritual abuse is always about the misuse of power and authority. We need to make it emphatically clear, from the beginning, that God is a God of order and that within the church there has to be a healthy (mutual) submission between church members and the authority that God rises up. Having said that, it is a disturbing fact that authoritarianism and power posturing is evident in many churches. There are two reasons why it is so disturbingly common in charismatic groups.

The first is that flimsily constructed and often unbiblical teachings on authority are popular and circulate within the charismatic movement where they are seized upon by “leaders” who would seek to establish themselves as “legitimate” spiritual authorities. We must not underestimate the power of these teachings; most originate out of America and range from the views of Dr. Mark T. Barclay who would label familiarity between a pastor and his congregation as “sin” to the doctrine of “fathering” that holds sway in many charismatic churches. The fathering doctrine is based on a misunderstanding of I Corinthians 4: 15 “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Upon this simple description of the founding relationship Paul had with the Corinthian church, some dare build a teetering edifice of complicated, hierarchical relationships in the church.

Secondly, it must be noted that amongst the Charismatics, Bible scholarship is poorly established as a personal or group discipline. This is as true of charismatic church leaders as it is of individual believers in charismatic groups. Unlike the Bereans who queried and tested every word that Paul brought to them, many modern Charismatic Christians accept anything and everything that flows to them out of their Perspex pulpits. Most modern Charismatics have not read the Bible through, and too many rely upon Bible paraphrases such as The Message in their moments of Biblical reflection. Serious study and intellectual application is commonly sneered upon in charismatic circles, further complicating the situation.

Recognizing Spiritual Abuse
Spiritually abusive situations can be recognized quite readily. People involved in an abusive situation begin by feeling that generally things just don’t seem right. As they focus attention on their growing dis-ease; a typical pattern of abuse might manifest itself with one or more
symptoms much like these:

• The leader(s) will always need to have absolute control and the final authority over a ministry. If there is an eldership, it will be composed of only a few men (and women) who are chosen not according to the “leadership qualifications” (as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13) but because they can be controlled by the “set man” and relied upon to defend all things he says and does. It is unlikely the leader will be in any meaningful relationship with people or churches outside of his group. He will avoid being held accountable by a denomination or his peers in the so called “professional ministry”. It is quite likely that the set man will justify his lack of interaction with other churches via a disapproval of their doctrines or even spiritual smugness.

• The leader or “set man” will be insecure in his calling and will likely interpret any questioning as a direct challenge to his authority. An insecure leader will need to bolster his position by “teaching” on authority in the church.

• The abusive church will exhibit a clear hierarchical structure. Despite the fact that scripture (in 1Corinthians 12:12-24) uses the analogy of the body, where all parts are knitted together, none more special than the other, and where each has a unique place, the abusive church will have a clear rank oriented hierarchy. At the top of the pyramid will be the “set man” or founding pastor the man with “the vision”. Underneath him will come another, usually a senior elder or assistant pastor, whose job it is to act as the set man’s bodyguard and “hit man”. A little lower will come the rest of the elders, and even here might be another rank split, with some within eldership being more “trusted” than others, and so permitted into the inner circle of the set man and his 2 i/c.

Underneath the elders will come the home group leaders-the last of the “ranked” members. Underneath these will come the “dumb sheep”. The 98% of any church.

• The abusive leader is deceptive. The abusive leader cannot afford to be transparent and is likely to be a master at slick speech and manipulative words. The abusive leader is not above lying or deliberately engineering circumstances to get his own way. When the abusive leader chooses to confront or discipline members, the atmosphere is typically that of a kangaroo court. Judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner are roles filled by the “set man” and maybe one of his trusted henchmen The accused will be “tried” in secret, and no reliable records kept. As the abuser lays waste to his victim, he will cover his tracks the best he can.

• The abusive leader and his cohorts will have a list of unwritten, unspoken rules. Whilst “freedom” might be preached, in reality a complex series of unwritten laws apply to “the sheep”. The sheep, of course, never know what these rules are until they have unwittingly broken one of them. Many of these unwritten rules are attempts to govern the way that sheep relate to their leaders. Thus one can be found guilty very quickly of having a “bad attitude”…

• There is little or no financial accountability in an abusive ministry. Tithing will be required of ordinary members, but despite the enormous revenues that tithing can generate in a church the church books and accounts will not be freely available for inspection. It is unlikely that annual congregational meetings will take place at which balance sheets and accounting of expenditure will be made available. The salary and benefits of the set man will be a closely guarded secret and the congregation is likely to be unaware of debt incurred on their behalf. Neither will their permission or advice be sought for placing the congregation in debt (i.e. to finance a mortgage bond on a church building).

• Abusive leaders tend to have dominating “in your face” attitudes when they choose to confront apparently errant sheep. Haughtiness and anger, instead of gentleness and a loving spirit are too often experienced by those unfortunate Christians who do not meet the tyrant’s demands or conform, as quickly as might be required. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:2-3 that “the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” [emphasis added]. Persons on the receiving of tongue lashings from abusive leaders are demeaned, humiliated and systemically broken down by leaders with haughty attitudes who rail, uncontrolled and unchecked, against a fellow brother in Christ.

• The abusive leader is somewhat paranoid. He will compound this paranoia by a reluctance to keep written records or minutes of meetings etc., This further fuels communication problems as he will get vital information mixed up and confused as the net closes in.

• The abusive leader loves things and uses people. One of the hallmarks of an abusive church is how many people have left the group because they could no longer stand being used and manipulated.

• The abusive leader or religious system works very hard at creating and maintaining a superlative image-spectacular programs, public ministrie s etc,. There will likely be church schools, feeding programs, youth groups, bands and outreach ministries that are spectacular in nature. Look carefully at them; do they reflect back on the glory of Jesus Christ or are these monuments to the group leader.

• There is likely to be a noticeable discrepancy between the “vision statement” and the actual state of the ministry’s various programs. Thus churches with a declared aim of moving into a certain region or area, are unlikely to have done so in any meaningful way.

• Performance based approval is heavily promoted. Apart from the fact that performance is the opposite of God’s grace, many charismatic groups are quite open about their requirement for members to “perform” or demonstrate their commitment. A South African independent charismatic fellowship published a positional paper that included this statement “to function in the gifts and calling of God (true riches) we must prove ourselves faithful in that which belongs to another (whether God or man)”. Quite often this performance is linked to indeterminate time spent in menial “service” (cleaning toilets) for example. Quite often, too, abusive leaders will have the uncanny knack of honing in on a member’s God-given gifts and talents and specifically excluding them from service that utilizes those gifts. An example would be a talented musician who may not play on the music team until he has shuffled a few thousand seats around a hall for a year or two.

Abusive ministries are notorious wasters of talent.
• An over-reliance on untested prophecy and “words of knowledge” in deciding the direction of a ministry or program within the church.

• Any occurrence of teaching or practice that has the effect of watering down or nullifying an individual’s ability to hear God for himself. Specifically ordinary church members might be required to “submit” for approval any ideas, even decisions of a personal nature, that they might have or believe that God is guiding them into. Scripture warns us that is safety in the counsel of numbers, but it is a fine line between getting a second opinion and being told what one may or may not do.

• People who choose to leave the group will do so under a cloud. They will not be released with love or any kind of public farewell usually. There will likely be shame or slander directed at them as they leave. Over time, an abusive group will have quite a collection of alumni with similar horror stories of abuse to talk about. A grossly abusive group will, of course, not be experiencing increase in membership.

• Victims of abusive churches very often manifest broken lives and crushed spiritual faith after departing a dangerous religious group. Divorce, depression, drug and alcohol addictions, family and work problems are the price of their religious addiction. This further fuels the abusive church leaders who thrive on scary stories about what happened to ‘so and so’ after he/she left the group…

The twisting of Scripture
One of the most common “tricks” employed by abusive religious groups is the out –of-context use of scripture or blatant “cut and past” of pieces of scripture to support an idea or pet doctrine that they seek to impose upon their followers. This is probably the direct result of the overall appalling standard of Biblical exegesis and theological training in charismatic circles. The normal rules of Biblical interpretation (an academic science called hermeneutics) are thrown overboard precisely because so many charismatic leaders have no theological training even worth mentioning. Whilst there are some scriptures that stand as Christian truth on their own (Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection for example) there is an exceptionally large proportion within the body of Holy Scripture that cannot be lifted out and applied willy nilly to an aspect of life. The established principals of scriptural interpretation are roughly as follows:

• What does the verse appear to say?
• What does it say in the context of surrounding verses/chapters/books of the Bible?
• What is the historical and social context of this set of Scriptures?
• How does the interpretation of this scripture change as one reads it in the original languages?

These are important issues and it is because of the sheer lack of scholarship and the smug attitudes many charismatic leaders have towards theological training, that so much hurtful rubbish is preached out of charismatic pulpits around the world. Some classical examples of scripture twisting are reviewed below. Most commonly, authoritarian leaders will use 1 Chronicles 16:22 (or its parallel Psalm 105:12-15 to justify stifling any criticism directed at leaders. This scripture says quite clearly (or so it seems):

“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm” (NIV)

Thus any number of authoritarians will claim the divine right to do as they please. The problem is that the verse is taken completely out of context and applied to a contemporary situation that was the furthest thing from the mind of Ezra, the author. The original intention of the scripture was to record the historical fathers of the historical facts of God’s ongoing provision and guidance of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the historical fathers of the Hebrews/Israelites). Thus when we read the verse in Biblical context it becomes very different in character and meaning to that which modern authoritarians would have it be applied:

When they [meaning the patriarchs] were but few in number, few indeed and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed non man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings; ‘Do no touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm’ 1 Chronicles 16:19-22 NIV)

Interestingly, all Christians are “God’s anointed”. A quick look at 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 describes this amazing fact:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Thus the twisted logic employed by the authoritarian wielders of 1 Chronicles 16:22,  lounders entirely on the simple fact that as Christians we are all God’s anointed…. Leadership have the God-given duty to lovingly correct; rebuke and even excommunicate brothers caught in obvious sin (e.g. fornication, drunkenness etc.,). Church discipline always has its goal the repentance and restoration of the sinner caught in scripturally defined sin, but the leader’s right of correction never, under any circumstances whatsoever, extends to the hateful scorning, slandering , humiliating, breaking down, abusing, shunning, attacking or in any way tearing down a fellow Christian.

A similarly twisted piece of Scripture is that in Hebrews 13:17
“17 Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

This Scripture is often cited by certain political groups as Scripture justification for not resisting even the foulest and most corrupt of civilian governments. The key to understanding this scripture is that we are only required to obey authority that is legitimate and to the point that our obedience does not clash with Scripture or our consciences. When the church authorities make requirements of you that you know are not Biblically justifiable; or when church authorities stop being servants and become, instead, tyrants (thus becoming illegitimate authorities) then we are not required to obey them. David “disobeyed” Saul by fleeing from him. Jesus regularly floutedthe laws and traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. Peter and Paul bluntly told Jewish religious leaders that they would obey God before man. The principle of Hebrews 13:17 is to obey legitimate authority; but we are certainly not required to obey madmen or people who would lead us astray with their teachings.

Often people in abusive situations find themselves in situations where they need the protection of civil authority. This is when the hoary favorite of the Scripture twisters, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 is flashed around with impunity.

1 When you have something against another Christian, why do you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter, instead of taking it to other Christians to decide who is right? 2 Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide these little things among yourselves? 3 Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?

So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disagreements here on earth. 4 If you have legal disputes about such matters, why do you go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? 5 I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these arguments? 6 But instead, one Christian sues another—right in front of unbelievers! 7 to have such lawsuits at all is a real defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? 8 But instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your own Christian brothers and sisters.

This scripture illustrates a very important Biblical principle – that it is infinitely preferable for petty matters to be sorted out within the church. The problem here is that the sort of disputes that can arise in abusive situations are no longer petty matters of offence taken and so on.

Very often, civil or common laws have been breached and there is absolutely nothing wrong with approaching the police or the courts to prosecute and resolve such issues. A clear instance of this is seen in Acts 22:23-29 where Paul, accused by Jewish leaders of various “religious” crimes makes full use of the extraordinary benefits of being a born Roman citizen, to prevent himself from suffering an illegal beating. Further into the Book of Acts, Paul uses his legal right of appeal to Caesar in order to defend himself against the false charges brought against him by the Jewish leaders:

7 On Paul’s arrival in court, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove. 8 Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty” he said. “I have committed no crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government.” 9 Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial right before be there?” 10 But Paul replied “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty. 11 If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, neither you nor anyone else has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!” 12 Festus conferred with his advisors and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you shall go!” (Acts 25:7-12 New Living Translation)

Another Favorite of scripture twisters is 1 Corinthians 1:27-28

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are (NIV) This verse has been offered up countless times as justification for some of the silliest things ever done in the church – the appointment of incompetents to positions of leadership for example. Whilst this Scripture seems like a license to do weird things and get away with it, the actual intent of the Scripture is less liberal. In these words Paul is showing us that the way of the cross is so simple that anyone can understand it; that salvation is totally from God and not dependent on works that we might do.

There are other examples of Scripture twisting that we can quote, but most often the best preparation against scripture twisting is to know what the Bible has to say about leadership and how leadership should conduct itself. J. Lee Grady, in his book: What Happened to the Fire:

Rekindling the Blaze of Charismatic Renewal, writes these inspired words on the subject of leadership and authoritarianism:

The Apostle Peter laid down a set of guidelines for church eldership where he wrote his first Epistle to the early church:

To the elders amongst you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1Peter 5:1-3)

We lord over others naturally. That is the way of the way of the world. But Peter reminded the believers in Asia minor that Christ had introduced a revolutionary new approach – leadership though humility, servant hood and example. Jesus demonstrated that radical approach to leadership when He dressed like a slave and washed His disciples’ feet. When two of his closest followers entertained a lust for power, Jesus told them:

You know that the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. No so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:25-28)

This godly method of governing, however, has not been the rule in most charismatic churches, particularly independent ones. Since the renewal blossomed in the late 1960’s, many groups that began with vibrant faith degenerated quickly into legalism and authoritarianism. Some ministry leaders have exalted themselves as kings over their own kingdoms, giving their churches or ministries the characteristics of cults [emphasis added].

When and how to escape an abusive church Many people will agonize over leaving a group they have begun to see as manipulative and abusive. No matter how bad the situation might be, the wrench of leaving threaten an impact similar to the traumas of death and divorce in the family. Some, clearly desperate to do the will of God to the end, will stick it out and justify their staying with genuine cries of: “God hasn’t told me to leave.” The only kind of logical response to this, is the single question: “Has God told you to stay”

One of the reasons why people are reluctant to leave is a misunderstanding of who owns the sheep in God’s flock. The pastor most certainly does not own the flock; they belong to God.

The passive acceptance of staying in the church where one appears to have been placed by God needs serious debunking. The Bible warns us most severely against being led astray by false teachers and false prophets. We, as Christians, have a duty to know our doctrines well and to test everything that is taught to us. We have no business sitting in churches where false teaching is tolerated.

Another aspect to consider is this: One of the major purposes behind belonging to a church group is that one can be encouraged and grow in faith and Christian maturity. If one is not being encouraged, if people are experiencing harshness instead of love; the people are marking time or regressing in their spiritual walks, then clearly something is seriously amiss with that particular group and it would be wise to consider moving “home”.

Leaving an abusive church is, however, something that only people involved can decide upon. Concerned friends and family cannot make that decision for them. The decision of whether to stay or leave must be made with the full knowledge of the consequences involved.

If you stay If you choose to stay in an abusive church, you have two options: fight for the truth or submit entirely. An abusive leadership will not allow you to pick your fights selectively, so it’s a commitment to fight for the truth (note: not fight against people) or resolution to surrender to the ways of the leaders. The option to fight is not one that is open to people who lack the stamina for a protracted battle or for people with thin skins and thinner theology. It is for the determined and mature believer only. Someone who knows how to fight error with scripture and who will not be intimidated by the posturing of leadership.

If you leave Those who choose to leave an abusive church will not find immediate relief. When David fled from Saul, he did so alone. It will be the same way if you choose to leave. No one will go with you and it is likely that friends and family still in the group will shut you out. This isolation is sometimes enough to cause people to stay in an abusive group. Furthermore, if you leave, then it is almost certain that gossip about you will circulate, at the highest levels even, gossip that is malicious and about which you can do nothing.

Is there any hope?
Recovery from spiritual abuse is a lengthy process. I am not a psychologist, but my own experience and research will lead me to believe that recovery is a sometimes lengthy process that will go through the following cycles or stages:

• Disbelief (in the initial stages one numbs out the awful reality of what is happening)
• Anger (deep and bitter anger directed at he abusers)
• Despair (a feeling of utter despair and hopelessness; people feel that recovery from the abuses they
have suffered will never occur)
• Acceptance of what has happened (an acceptance of the reality of the events, not an approval of what happened)
• Reexamination of core doctrines and beliefs (a healing process)
• Forgiveness and moving on (a decision one has to take, eventually)

My own experience was that the advice of friends etc., “put it behind you”, “don’t dwell on it” was sincere, but misguided. The person who experiences spiritual abuse has been grossly violated by people he trusted implicitly. That this has happened in the church, the one place supposed to be safe and secure, compounds the problem. The wounds inflicted reach so deep into one’s psyche that no band aid, no little prayer, no little sermon or comforting word is sufficient to undo the damage. Recover from this abuse is a process that depends on:

• A determination to recover, knowing that one has to forgive for recovery to happen
• A retelling of the story to someone who can listen empathetically. (This was absolutely vital in my case as I had to go through a process where the experience was validated, i.e. that I came to know that I did not make it up or imagine it (as my abusers told me I did!).

I am exceptionally reluctant to make the claim of PTSD for myself, but in my research, I came across the American Medical Association’s criteria for the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This condition is most commonly diagnosed in people who have suffered the effects of many other kinds of traumas. Listed below is an extract from a university sychology department’s web site on PTSD. I can however, identify with some of the intrusive and  voidant symptoms described in the web site article below:

While PTSD usually appears within three months of the trauma, sometimes it can surface months or even years later (APA, 1997). Psychiatrists categorize PTSD symptoms in four categories:

• Intrusive symptoms
• Avoidant symptoms
• Symptoms of hyperarousal
• Associated features

Intrusive Symptoms
The symptoms in this category are perhaps the most distinctive and readily identifiable. Here the traumatic event remains a dominating psychological experience that evokes panic, terror, grief, or despair as manifested in daytime fantasies, traumatic nightmares, and psychotic reenactments known as PTSD flashbacks (Friedman, 1996). These flashbacks are so strong that the individual thinks that he or she is actually experiencing the trauma again.

When a person has a severe flashback, he or she is in a dissociative state (APA, 1997). When this occurs, the individual may actually start to act out the incident as if he or she was experiencing the traumatic event again.

Avoidant Symptoms
Avoidance symptoms are characterized by emotional constriction or numbing—a need to void feelings, thoughts, and situation reminiscent of the trauma, a loss of normal emotional responses, or both (Long, 1997). These symptoms reflect the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional strategies used by PTSD patients to attempt to reduce their psychological response to the traumatic stimuli (Friedman, 1996).

Patients try to avoid all situations that might serve as stimuli for the traumatic event. When taken to the extreme, this may superficially resemble agoraphobia because the PTSD patient is afraid to leave the house for fear of confronting reminders of the traumatic event (Friedman. 1996).

Dissociation and psychogenic amnesia are included among avoidant/numbing symptoms by which individuals cut off conscious experience of trauma based on memories and feelings.

Because PTSD patients cannot tolerate string emotions of any kind, they perceive only the cognitive aspects of psychological experience and not the emotional aspects. This “psychic numbing” acts as an emotional anesthesia and makes meaningful interpersonal relationships extremely difficult (Friedman, 1996; Long, 1997)

Symptoms of Hyperarousal
Individuals with PTSD often act as though they were constantly threatened by the trauma that caused their illness (Long, 1997). These symptoms most closely resemble those seen in panic and generalized anxiety disorder (Friedman, 1996). Although some symptoms such as somnia and irritability are generic anxiety symptoms, hypervigilence and startle are more unique. The hypervigilence in PTSD may sometimes become so intense that it appears to be  simply paranoia. The startle reaction of PTSD patients also has neurobiological implications (see “Etiology” for more on the neurobiological causation of PTSD).

Associated Features
The person with PTSD may attempt to rid themselves of painful flashbacks, loneliness, and panic attacks by abusing alcohol and other drugs. These serve the purpose of blunting the patient’s emotions and helping them to forget their trauma. Related, a PTSD patient may also
show poor control over his impulses, increasing the risk of suicide (APA, 1997). (See  epidemiology” for statistics on drug abuse and suicide among individuals with PTSD).
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Now that you have read my article, take this self quiz below. Be honest. Where you are unsure of an answer, give your potential dangerous group the benefit of the doubt and record a “no” vote.

The “Am I A Member of A Dangerous Religious Group?” Self Quiz
A group starts with two people. And two individuals can find themselves embroiled in many of the same fundamental destructive group dynamics that large organizations fall prey to. Are you “UNDER THE INFLUENCE” of a destructive group or belief system? Find out with this:

SELF QUIZ
• Does your group discourage doubts, criticism or ideas that differ from their belief system?
Yes____No____
• Do you tend to rationalize whatever the group does even when it goes against your sense of right and wrong?
Yes___ No___
• Do you often feel exhausted from lengthy group activities, meetings and projects?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have its own unique words, cliches, slogans, chants, prayers and doctrinal
phrases that reinforce the group viewpoint?
Yes___ No___
• Are doubts viewed as a lack of faith, dedication, commitment or disloyalty?
Yes___ No___
• Have “your thoughts” become “the enemy?”
Yes___ No___
• Do you often find yourself doing more and more things in the group or because of group peer pressure that you would not have done on your own?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group publicly humiliate or criticize members?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have a system of punishments and rewards for behavior?
Yes___ No___
• Group paranoia: Does your group obsessively think other groups or people with different beliefs are out to get them?
Yes___ No___
• Does the prospect of leaving your group seem scary, difficult?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel the need to leave in secret?
Yes___ No___
• Have you been told something bad might happen if you leave?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group/belief system think they have/are the only or highest truth, or have the solution for the world’s problems?
Yes___ No___
• Are your leader’s ideas or belief system considered beyond reproach or sacred?
Yes___ No___
• Do you follow a particular individual or belief system that requires unquestioning obedience and loyalty?
Yes___ No___
• Do members of your group feel specially chosen, superior, exclusive, elite?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel the need to save or convert others to your belief system or ideology?
Yes___ No___
• Is your group secretive to outsiders about its inner workings, teachings, activities or beliefs?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group equate purity and goodness to being in your group, and impurity or evil to those outside your group?
Yes___ No___
• Do you place your group’s mission or agenda above your own goals and ideals? Do group
interests come before your own interest
Yes___ No___
• Do you find yourself thinking in a we-they, us-versus-them mind set?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group/system have a clear outside enemy?
Yes___ No___
• Do you see less and less of your family and friends who do not belong to your group or who do not subscribe to your group’s belief system?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group use frequent public testimonials, confessions, or sharings that reinforce the
group’s mission or agenda?
Yes___ No___
• Is communication within, into and out of your group controlled or censored in any manner?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group criticize, shun, abandon or demean individuals who leave the group?
Yes___ No___
• Do members seek approval or get permission from group leader(s) for personal life choices?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel pressured to attend meetings, events, lectures, seminars? And do you feel guilty if you don’t attend?
Yes___ No___
• Do you feel pressured to give a portion of your income to the group, or spend money on courses,
books or special projects?
Yes___ No___
• Are the group’s financial needs more important than your own economic well-being?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group discriminate against anyone regarding race, gender, belief, or sexual  orientation?
Yes___ No___
• Does your group have a totalitarian structure: a strict, top-down centralized control?
Yes___ No___
Do you wonder if you have been in a destructive group?
Yes___ No___
Do you…
…have difficulty forming new friendships and intimate relationships?
Yes___ No___
…have low self-esteem, poor self-image or loss of identity?
Yes___ No___
…have difficulty making simple decisions and choices?
Yes___ No___
…often feel depressed, anxious and nervous?
Yes___ No___
…feel isolated, lonely, guilty, cynical?
Yes___ No___
…feel like you are just now growing up, becoming a mature adult?
Yes___ No___
…have short-term memory difficulties?
Yes___ No___
…feel you have nothing to believe in?
Yes___ No___
…often feel anger and rage towards the group?
Yes___ No___
…have nightmares or unpleasant dreams?
Yes___ No___
…find it difficult or impossible to stop mental or other group ritualistic practices?
Yes___ No___

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CLICK THE LOGOS ABOVE TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE AND LISTEN TO THE RADIO SHOW

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This quiz has no scientifically predetermined number of “yes” answers to indicate a distructive group. However, answering “yes” to any of the above questions means you may need to examine your group and its influence in your life in those areas.

This quiz is copyright 1998 by John D. Goldhammer and Prometheus Books References:

This paper was written in an attempt to collate together material that I had noted or come across in a number of sources. For more information on this topic, I suggest one look at the following books:

Marc Du Pont – Walking out of Spiritual Abuse
David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen – The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse
J. Lee Grady – Where’s The Fire? Rekindling the Blaze of Charismatic Renewal
Ken Blue – Healing Spiritual Abuse
Stephen Aterburn & Jack Felton – Toxic Faith
Hank Hanegraaf – Christianity in Crisis
Gene Edwards – The Tale of Three Kings

Some good web sites to begin researching this topic are:
http://www.spiritualabuse.org
http://www.discernment.org
http://www.wellspringretreat.org
http://www.testingthespirits.com
http://www.watchman.org

http://2ndchancecc.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/understandingspiritualabuse.pdf

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How2BecomeAChristian.info BLOG was blessed to have Ex-word of Faith preacher John Edwards visit the other day. He has a blog @ Faithpreacher.blogspot.com which is devoted to sharing his experience as he says “My journey through and my deliverance from the deceptive and dangerous Word of Faith Movement”.

I have really enjoyed everything I have read at his blog and will be featuring more of his writings. I also ask John to let me interview him and he agreed to share his story with us. So in the next few weeks I will have a post featuring our interview. I am thrilled to talk to him and hear his full story.

The following article was instrumental in Pastor Johns coming out of the Word of faith movement. John gives a link to this article on his blogpost and says “This link is what God used to really open our eyes to the deception and fear that we were living in. If you are not afraid of the Truth, then dig in and read.”

JOHN’S COMMENTARY about this article is very very good stuff. BUT posting them together would make this post far too long. SO here is the link to John’s commentary.

http://faithpreacher.blogspot.com/2008/10/kenneth-hagins-visions.html

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This post will set the context for you. John was a student of Kenneth Hagins.

THE TULSA TEASE: A preachers disappointment and departure from the Word of Faith movement

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The Counterfeit Dreams and Visions of “Prophet” Kenneth Hagin ©Rev. Robert Liichow 1998

Kenneth E. Hagin is the acknowledged “father” of the modern Word of Faith Movement and is viewed by charismatic Christians globally as a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. Kenneth Hagin has been active in ministry since the late 1930’s and worked around the fringes of the Pentecostal healing revival of the 1940’s through late 1950’s.

Kenneth Hagin started out in the ministry holding evangelical meetings as a Baptist (1934-1937) and then was licensed by the Assemblies of God in 1937 and began to Pastor from 1937-1949). Beginning in 1949 brother Hagin was an itinerant evangelist and Bible teacher.

“As a result of his final vision in 1963, he set up his own office at his home in Garland, Texas, for the distribution of his tapes and books. . .Hagin founded Rhema Bible Training Center in 1974. By 1988 more than 10,000 students had graduated, and his daily radio program, “Faith Seminar of the Air,” was being broadcast on more than 180 stations in thirty-nine states, with a short-wave audience in about eighty other nations. By this time more than three million of his eighty-five books and almost half a million cassette tapes of his sermons have been distributed annually.

Kenneth Hagin is a man with no formal seminary training or college education, yet his school is viewed as the premier Bible training school among charismatic believers. Rev. Hagin’s teachings are accepted without question by the rank and file charismatic and many of the most popular charismatic ministers acknowledge Hagin as their spiritual father. Some of those who publicly acknowledge their debt to “Dad” Hagin include Fred Price, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Norval Hayes, Buddy Harrison, and Keith Butler, to name only a few.

One of the reasons Kenneth Hagin and his message has been so widely accepted is because of the claims he himself makes as to the origin of his teachings. His ministry since 1950 has been based upon several alleged visionary encounters with Jesus Christ.

“As a prophet, Hagin communicates revelation that is received by way of divine voice, vision, or visitation. As a teacher, he exposits the Scripture in a plain and often humorous fashion. When both office are combined, the result is a ministry that appears utterly supernatural, and yet thoroughly biblical.”

Brother Hagin’s ministry consists of two basic ingredients: (1) The teachings of E.W. Kenyon, whose work he intentionally or unintentionally plagiarized. (2) The revelations he supposedly received via direct communication through visions with the Lord Jesus Christ. For the purpose of this writing I will confine myself to considering the visions of Rev. Hagin and their content.

Rev. Hagin is among the most mystical preachers of international status alive today. His life as a visionary began at age 15. On April 22, 1933 at 7:40 PM Rev. Hagin died and descended to hell:

“Then the inner man rushed out of my body and left my body lying dead, with the eyes set and the flesh cold. . .I have proof that I was actually dead. My eyes were set, my heart stopped beating, and my pulse had ceased. . .Finally, far below me, I could see lights flickering on the walls of the caverns of the damned. The lights were caused by the fires of hell. . .Upon reaching the bottom of the pit, I became conscious of some kind of spirit being by my side. . .a voice spoke from far above the blackness, above the earth, and above the heavens. I don’t know if it was the voice of God, Jesus, or an angel, or who. . .I slipped back into my body as easily as a man slips into his trousers in the morning – through my mouth.”

According to Hagin he died and was taken down to the very gates of hell by some creature. Upon reaching the gates of hell a loud speaks from far above in an unknown tongue and Hagin is released by the creature and he floats back up and into his body via his mouth!

If words mean anything what we have is a person who died and was the resurrected from the dead. He stated he was dead (page 5) and then was supernaturally brought back from hell into his body (page 6).

“My heart stopped beating for the second time. . .I felt the blood cease to circulate. The tips of my toes went numb – then my feet, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, and heart. I leaped out of my body and began to descend: down, down down. . .The voice spoke from heaven and again my spirit came up out of that place – back to my room and back into my body. The only difference this time was that I came up at the foot of the bed.”

For the second time Rev. Hagin “dies” and leaves his body. Again, he descends into the pit, and again some voice speaks from above and Hagin is “resurrected” and re-enters his body via the foot of his bed.

Hagin upon coming back to his body this time leaves parting words for his sister and two brothers. Why parting words? Because Hagin is about to die for a third time and descend into hell.

“…my heart stopped for the third time. I could fell the circulation as it cut off again – and I leaped out of my body and began to descend. . .Thank God that voice spoke. I don’t know who it was – I didn’t see anybody – I just hear the voice. . .I began to pray, “O God! I come to you in the Name of Lord Jesus Christ. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and to cleanse me from all sin. . .That was the very hour I was born again due to the mercy of God through the prayers of my mother.”

This time on his way down Hagin begins to cry out to God that he is a church member, that he has been baptized in water. . . all to no avail. Yet God spoke again and Hagin begins to rise from the gates of hell. This time Hagin repents of his sins and calls on the name of Jesus and he is saved!

I am very glad that brother Hagin was saved but I have a problem when a person says that they were saved after they had died physically. Based on what he has stated we are to believe that he (1) died, (2) went down to hell, (3) and was born again while out of his body.

I realize that Hagin has probably not thought through some of the implications, but I have considered some of them. If what Hagin is saying is in fact true, the theological implications are staggering! This means a lost person can die, and on their way to hell repent of their sins and be born again. In fact, in Hagin’s case he died three times! What is important to keep in mind is that Hagin does not say that he thought he died, or that he simply left his body. No, he emphatically states that he died. “My experience of being brought back from the dead is not new. Jesus raised three people from the dead.” He equates his experiences on par with those of whom Jesus raised from the dead in the Bible.

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MORE WORD OF FAITHPOST

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If Hagin’s testimony is true then the Scriptures pertaining to the condition of lost people are wrong! How so? To begin with you have a lost man is dead in sin (Eph. 2:5) and without hope (Eph 2:12). In fact, the lost man does not love God nor does he seek after Him (Rom 3:10). Jesus said that He chose us, we did not chose Him (Jh 15:16).

What we see in Hagin’s experience is the exact opposite to what the Scripture plainly teach. We have a lost man, thus a spiritually dead man, crying out to a God he does not know or love to save him. We have a lost man choosing Christ, a man who hates the light (Jh 1:5) and does not understand the things of the spirit (2 Cor. 2:14). We have a man whose mind and will are at enmity with God (Rom 8:7) and cannot please God . . . doing that which please God, he calls upon Him!

In this testimony brother Hagin relates a couple key ingredients of standard Word of Faith (WOF) doctrine. First, to adherents of WOF teachings, it is no problem to believe that a person can die and be born-again in hell (or in Hagin’s case on the way down to hell). After all, Jesus was born-again man in the pit of hell. Hagin and all the clones after him agree with Kenyon’s theology:

“You can now understand that He uttered the sentence, “It is finished.” You can now understand that He did not mean that He had finished His Substitutionary work, but that He had finished the work the Father gave Him to do first. . .If Jesus paid the penalty of Sin on the cross, then Sin is but a physical act. If Hid death paid it, then every man could die for himself. Sin is in the spirit realm. His physical death was but a mean to an end. . .When Jesus died, His spirit was taken by the Adversary and carried to the place where the sinner’s spirit goes when he dies. . .He is the first born out of spiritual death, the first person who was ever born again. . .His spirit absolutely became impregnated with the sin nature of the world. . .He was made to be sin.”

So it is no stretch for them to accept that Hagin, like Jesus died a sinner, and was raised from the dead a righteous born-again man.

The second WOF concept is seen when Hagin states “I looked at the clock and saw it was 20 minutes before 8 o’clock. That was the very hour I was born again due to the mercy of God through the prayers of my mother.” (underlining bold type added)

I was taught (and taught) that God cannot do anything in the earth unless His people pray. So yes God was merciful, but that mercy was able to be released on Kenneth Hagin’s behalf because his mother prayed. If she had not prayed God would not have been able to show His mercy to Hagin. God’s ability is released through our prayers, this is standard WOF teaching regarding prayer and the authority we have as humans and as believers.

Certainly God answers prayer, He uses prayer as a means to His ends, yet God is not bound or loosed by our prayers. He is totally sovereign (Is 45:22) and He moves according to His free will and He is in no way dependent upon us for anything. He is the Creator and we are the creation, this fact is sorely misunderstood by most Charismatics.

On September 1950 in Rockwall Texas Hagin is holding a tent revival. He and the participants were praying around the platform.

“I began to pray in other tongues, and I heard a voice say, “Come up hither” . . .I thought everybody heard it. “Come up hither,” the voice said again. Then I looked and saw Jesus standing about where the top of the ten would be. As I looked again, the tent had disappeared . . .God had permitted me to see into the spirit realm. Jesus was standing there, and I stood in His presence. He was holding a crown in His hands. . .It seemed as if I went with Him through the air until we came to a beautiful city. . .The Jesus turned to me and said, “Now let us go down to hell.” Jesus told me, “warn men and women about this place,”. . .He then brought me back to earth. I became aware I was knelling on the platform. . .As he stood there, He talked to me about my ministry. He told me some things in general that He later explained in more detail in another vision.”

“Jesus” appears to Kenneth for several reasons. First He shows him the soul winners crown. “Jesus” tells him it is for all His children, but many are too busy and because of this “souls are lost because they will not obey Me.” So again, we encounter salvation depending upon man and not God. First we saw God’s mercy released via his mother’s prayers. Now we are told by “Jesus” not less, that souls are lost because His people do not obey Him and witness to them! Without going any further I can assure the reader fully that the being portraying himself as Jesus Christ, was not the Biblical Jesus. If this was the real Jesus, then He has changed His theology since the Holy Spirit had the Apostle John pen the following text:

John 6:37-40 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:37. Jesus then gave the ultimate explanation of their lack of faith: the Father works sovereignly in peoples lives. There is an election of God which is the Fathers gift to the Son. The Son has no concern that His work will be ineffective, for the Father will enable people to come to Jesus. Jesus has confidence. But people may have confidence also. (Cf. the crippled mans response to Jesus question, Do you want to get well? [5:6-9]) One who comes to Jesus for salvation will by no means be driven away (cf.{cf. confer, compare} 6:39). 6:38-39. Jesus then repeated His claim about His heavenly origin. The reason He came down from heaven was to do the will of the Father who sent Him. The Fathers will is that those whom He gives to the Son will not suffer a single loss and all will be raised to life in the resurrection (cf. vv. 40, 44, 54). This passage is strong in affirming the eternal security of the believer. 6:40. This verse repeats and reinforces the ideas of the previous verses. One who looks and believes on Jesus for salvation has his destiny secure. The divine decree has insured it (cf. Rom. 8:28-30). He has eternal life (John 6:47, 50-51, 54, 58) and will be raised at the last day (cf. vv. 39, 44, 54).

Jesus plainly taught that He would not lose one person whom the Father had given Him! So for “Jesus” to come to Hagin in 1950 and tell him that people are in hell because of their disobedience would be a direct contradiction of His own teaching. Salvation is not left up to men, but is the work of God. After this startling revelation “Jesus” takes Hagin up to see a beautiful city. They do not enter the city, just take a look. Then the being turns to Hagin and says “let us go down to hell.” Hagin sees people engulfed in flames and is told to warn people about this place. Then Hagin is brought back to his revival meeting and Jesus hangs around revealing to him future aspects of his ministry. Then “Jesus” disappears. Up to this point brother Hagin wants us to believe the following:

C He leaves his body and meets Jesus in person above his revival tent
C Jesus shows him the soul winners crown and instructs him about our obligation to save the lost
C Jesus takes Hagin to some celestial city
C Jesus takes Hagin to hell
C Jesus takes Hagin back into his body
C Jesus reveals to Hagin further gnosis about his future ministry

However, Hagin goes on the tell us that the revelations did not stop there:

“About that time the Holy Spirit came upon me again. It seemed as if a wind were blowing on me, and I fell flat on my face on the platform. As I lay under the power of God, it seemed as if I were standing high on a plain somewhere in space and I could see for miles and miles around me. . .I felt so lonely. I was not conscious of my earthly surroundings. As I looked to the west, I saw what appeared to be a tiny dot on the horizon. . .Soon I could see it was a horse. . .When the horseman came to me, he pulled on the reins and stopped. . .He passed the scroll from his left hand to his right hand and handed it to me. As I unrolled the scroll, which was a roll of paper 12 or 14 inches long, he said, “Take and read.” At the tope of the page in big bold, black print were the words “WAR AN DESTRUCTION.” I was struck dumb. He laid his right hand on my head and said, “Read, in the Name of Jesus Christ.” I began to read what was written on the paper, and as the words instructed me, I looked and saw what I had just read about.”

Next we are told that the Holy Spirit transports Hagin to some cosmic plain where he is alone and he sees a rider approaching from the west. The rider comes up to him and gives him a scroll which he is commanded to read. Hagin is struck dumb and needs this supernatural rider to lay hands on him and commands him to read in the Name of Jesus Christ, the revelations on the scroll. As he read the scroll he was able to see what he read coming to pass before his eyes.

“The scroll was written in the first person, and seemed as if Jesus Himself were speaking. I read, “America is receiving her last call. Some nations already have received their last call and never will receive another. . .”THE TIME OF THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND”. . .Jesus also said this was the last great revival. He went on the say, “All the gifts of the Spirit will be in operation in the Church in these last days, and the Church will do greater things than even the Early Church did. It will have greater power, signs, and wonders than were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. . . More and more miracles will be performed in the last days which are just ahead, for it is time for the gift of working of miracles to be more in prominence. . .Many of my own people will not accept the moving of my Spirit, and will turn back and will not be ready to meet Me at my coming. many will be deceived by false prophets and miracles of satanic origin. But follow the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and Me, and you will not be deceived. I am gathering my own together and am preparing them, for the time is short. ” bold type added)

What is interesting to me about the message the scroll contained is that it is in complete agreement with the current doctrinal error that was sweeping Pentecostalism at that time. Percy Hunt and George Warnock had been teaching what came to be called Latter Rain Doctrines since 1947 (actually the doctrinal roots go back as far as 1910). Hagin’s scroll parrots these teachings to the letter. Latter Rain proponents emphasized the outpouring of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit on the remnant of God. These gifts would be manifest to a degree that would exceed those of the original Apostles. They also stressed that the last great revival was on (keep in mind 1950 was just about the middle of the healing revival) and that America was heading towards judgment. “Warn this generation, as did Noah his generation, for judgment is about to fall. And these sayings shall be fulfilled shortly, for I am coming soon.” Jesus repeated, “This is the last great revival.”

Those Christians who question, and do not accept the coming signs, wonders, and miracles apparently will not be ready to meet Jesus at His return. So according to Hagin’s scroll the criteria for Christian readiness is to embrace “the moving of my Spirit.” The Bible does not teach this at all!

1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

What prepares the believer to meet Christ is the unshifting hope we have in Him, not the embrace of present day truth or the current move of the Spirit.

It is also interesting that the scroll warns of false prophets and miracles of satanic origin. Most of the visions I have studied usually add this caveat in them, to watch out for demonic counterfeits. What amazes me is that none of those who relate their dreams and visions ever take time to consider whether or not they themselves have been blinded by an angel of light (2 Cor 11:13). Yet when you take an objective Biblical look at the content of the dreams and visions and see what is alleged to have been said by Jesus, an Angel, etc. you will find that the statements are either contra-biblical or extra-biblical.

Hagin goes on to say that people present in the tent meeting said he read from the scroll aloud for 30 minutes. When he finished reading it, he gave it back to the rider, who galloped off back to wherever he had come from. Hagin says he was then conscious of the fact that he was still flat on his face on the floor (I wonder how people could hear him read for 30 minutes in that position?). Now we can add to our list these aspects of his experience:

C Hagin is knocked on his face by the Holy Spirit
C He is taken out of his body (again)
C Hagin is transported to a flat, barren plain, devoid of all life
C Hagin sees a rider approach
C The rider gives Hagin a scroll and tells him to read
C Hagin reads and sees the events of the scroll, people present hear him “read” the scroll
C Hagin comes back to himself realizes he is still face down on the floor

The Lord isn’t finished His revelatory work yet. While Hagin is face down on the floor he hears a voice say:

“Come up hither. Come up to the throne of God! Again I saw Jesus standing about where the top of the ten should be. . .When I reached Him, together we continued on to heaven. We came to the throne of God, and I beheld it in all its splendor. I was not able to look upon the face of God; I only beheld His form.

Hagin leaves his body, has a personal meeting with Jesus, returns to his body, gets taken out of his body, meets a rider on horseback, is given a prophetic scroll, reads it, is returned to his body, then “Jesus” calls Hagin out of his body again, he ascends to the throne of Almighty God. This would normally strain the credulity of most Christians, yet the average charismatic believer fully accepts his account. After the Lord explains the four phases of brother Hagin’s ministry to him he is given a special anointing from the Lord of glory:

“Then the Lord said to me, “Stretch forth thine hand!” He held His own hand out before Him and I looked into them. . .Instead of scars I saw in the palms of His hands the wounds of the crucifixion – three-cornered, jagged holes. Each hole was large enough for me to have put my finger in it. . .As I looked upon the wounds in His hands. . .He laid the finger of His right hand in the palm of my right hand and then my left. The moment He did, my hands began to burn as if a coal of fire had been placed in them. Then Jesus told me to kneel down before Him. When I did, He laid His hands upon my head, saying that He had called me and had given me a special anointing to minister to the sick. He went on to instruct me that when I pray and lay hands on the sick, I was to lay one hand on each side of the body. If I felt the fire jump from hand to hand, an evil spirit or demon was present in that body causing the affliction. . .If the fire, or the anointing, in my hands did not jump from hand to hand, it was a case needing healing only. I should pray for the person in Jesus Name, and if he would believe and accept it, the anointing would leave my hands and go into that person’s body, driving out the disease and brining healing.”

There is a great deal which bears scrutiny in this segment of brother Hagins’s account. To begin with he sees holes in the palms of “Jesus” hands. It is a physical impossibility for a person to be nailed to a cross with the nails going through their palms. The weight of the human body could not be supported by nails in the palms. Archeologists agree that the nails used probably were placed just behind the wrists of Jesus:

But new light has been thrown on the subject by archaeological work in Judea. In the summer of 1968 a team of archaeologists under V. Tzaferis discovered four Jewish tombs at GivÔat ha-Mivtar (Ras el-Masaref), Ammunition Hill, near Jerusalem, where there was an ossuary containing the only extant bones of a (young) crucified man, dating from probably between ad{ad anno Domini} 7 and ad{ad anno Domini} 66, judging from Herodian pottery found there. Thorough research has been made into the causes and nature of his death and may throw considerable light on our Lord’s form of death. The young man’s arms (not his hands) were nailed to the patibulum, the cross-beam, which might indicate that Lk. 24:39; Jn. 20:20, 25, 27 should be translated ‘arms’. The weight of the body was probably borne by a plank (sedecula) nailed to the simplex, the upright beam, as a support for the buttocks. The legs had been bent at the knees and twisted back so that the calves were parallel to the patibulum or cross-bar, with the ankles under the buttocks. One iron nail (still in situ) had been driven through both his heels together, with his right foot above the left. A fragment shows that the cross was of olive wood. His legs had both been broken, presumably by a forcible blow, like those of Jesus’ two companions in Jn. 19:32. (Bold type added)

Brother Hagin attempts to validate his visionary experience by citing John 20:25 where Thomas says “. . .except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails. . .” What Hagin failed to realize is that the Jews considered the “hand” to be any part from the elbow down. On the physical evidence alone the being brother Hagin was speaking to could not have been the Biblical Jesus.

More astounding than the nail scarred palms is the alleged commission that Jesus gives brother Hagin. The purpose for Hagin coming up to the throne room of heaven was to be personally commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ with a special anointing to heal the sick. “Jesus” lays his hands on Hagin’s head and tells him that “he” has called him to minister to the sick via a special anointing.

Whenever brother Hagin lays his hands on sick people he will (from this point on in 1950) be able to discern whether the person is sick due to (1) an evil spirit, (2) a demon, or (3) just physically ill. He will know this because the anointing fire will jump (or not jump) from hand to hand! If Hagin can get the sick person to believe this, then the anointing will flow out of Hagin’s hands into the sick person and he, Hagin, will know they are healed!

The anointing given to Kenneth Hagin is so special it is not found anywhere in the Bible. He has received, personally, from the nail-pierced hands of Jesus a power not given to any of the people within the confines of the written Word. Nowhere in Scripture is such an “anointing” spoken of. Nowhere in Scripture do we read on Jesus giving anyone the ability to discern the cause of an illness by the physical sensation of fire jumping from hand to hand! Yet does anyone within the Pentecost/charismatic circle question this?

In fact, I find it interesting that during the healing revival (1940-1950’s) the main healing evangelists all claimed to have been given a tangible healing anointing which was felt in their hands. Probably the two most famous healing evangelists of that time who made such claims were Oral Roberts and William Branham. With this in mind brother Hagin’s claim to feel the fire jump from hand to hand was not hard for people to swallow. Bigger evangelists than he had already been making claims of that nature for almost five years prior to his being “anointed” to heal.

After this special call by “Jesus,” the laying on of hands, and the imparting of this special anointing Hagin begs not to be sent into the healing ministry. Jesus rebukes him and Hagin relents and agrees to obey this divine charge:

“I’ll go with you and stand by your side as you pray for the sick, and many times you will see Me. Occasionally I will open the eyes of someone in the audience and they will say, “Why, I saw Jesus standing by that man as he prayed for the sick.”

“Jesus” personally commits to be with Hagin when he prays for the sick. In fact, many times Hagin will personally get to see Jesus standing by his side and Jesus will open the eyes of revival participants and allow them to see Him. After this throne room experience they head back to earth:

“Jesus then journeyed with me back to the earth, and I realized that I still lay on my face on the floor. he talked with me there a moment and then disappeared. My hands burned for three days just like I had a coal of fire in each of them. Now when I wait upon the Lord in prayer and fasting, the same anointing comes upon me again.”

Brother Hagin gives no explanation why they went up to the “throne room” of heaven, or why Jesus did not commission him when He first appeared to Hagin earlier that day. Hagin does explain that this special anointing can come and go; “if the anointing leaves you, fast and pray until it comes back” . When he feels the anointing has left him all that he has to do is some fasting and praying and it will come back. There is no explanation about what would cause this anointing to leave, all we know is what Hagin must do to get it back. Before I go onto brother Hagin’s next gnostic experience it is necessary to take some time and consider what the Bible has to say about the anointing and compare it to what Pentecostal and charismatics mean when they use that term.

The working charismatic definition of “the anointing” is an ineffable supernatural power given by the Holy Spirit to accomplish a task or ministry. The anointing is felt by the minister and can be transmitted to others through the laying on of hands. It is this tangible power flowing from the minister to the recipient which causes them to “fall under the power” when prayed for. Sometimes the anointing is described as power, heat, electricity, or fire. The anointing comes upon a minister and can lift from him. One can gain the anointing through fasting and prayer (as in Hagin’s case) or it can be bestowed on a person via another “anointed” vessel.

Strong’s Dictionary defines anointing as: chrisma, khris’-mah; from Greek 5548 (chrio); an unguent or smearing, i.e. (figurative) the special endowment (“chrism”) of the Holy Spirit :- anointing, unction. In the New Testament the term(s) for anointing are used only seven times. Four of the seven are direct references to the Lord Jesus Christ and His ministry (Lk. 4:18; Acts 4:27, Acts 10:38, and Heb. 1:9).

The other three times refer to the work of the Holy Spirit in teaching us as God’s children (1 Jh. 2:20, 27) and in keeping us in Christ (2 Cor. 1:21). Nowhere does the Bible speak of the anointing being felt as fire, heat, electricity, or power. Nowhere do we read of the anointing flowing out of Paul or Peter, i.e. being transmitted and people falling down under the power of the anointing. Every believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and that same Holy Spirit is the anointing (1 Jh. 2:27). Thus every believer in “anointed” with the Holy Spirit. If a believer has any of the Spirit, he must then have all of the Spirit, because God is not divisible.

Nowhere are we told how to increase this anointing, how to get more of it, how to release it, or how to transmit it to others. From a simple reading of the New Testament all of these concepts are false. Charismatic teachers have developed an entire doctrine on the anointing which separate the anointing from the Holy Spirit. The anointing to them is a power given by The Spirit versus being synonymous with the Holy Spirit. This is very important to understand. If the anointing is separate then it can be lost, increased, transmitted, etc. If however, the anointing and The Spirit are one in the same, as the Bible teaches (Acts 10:38; Luke 4:18), then obviously, these things cannot occur.

UNCTION. In its three NT{NT New Testament} occurrences, i.e. 1 Jn. 2:20, 27 (twice), Authorized Version King James, 1611 renders Greek chrisma, unction, and Revised Standard Version : NT, 1946; OT, 1952; Common Bible, 1973 has anointed, *anointing. Christians who, by virtue of their unction (vv.{vv. verses}20, 27), are all able to discern schism (v.{v. verse} 19) and heresy (denial of the incarnation, v.{v. verse} 22) are exhorted to adhere to the apostolic message (v.{v. verse} 24), which led them to confess the Father and the Son. Grammatically, unction must be either (a) that which is smeared on (so B. F. Westcott, The Epistles of John, 1892); or (b) the act of anointing (so A. E. Brooke, ICC{ICC International Critical Commentary}, 1912); but in either case the word refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit, of which baptism is the outward sign, and whose sensible reception, leading to awareness of dangers to the church, is the consequence of true incarnational faith. This exegesis is compatible with, though not necessarily proving, the belief that the anointing of the Spirit leads to spoken prophecy within the church. (Bold type added by author). Thus the majority of what Charismatic ministries teach about the anointing must be placed under the category of false teaching. The following internationally known ministries propagate erroneous concepts about the anointing:

C Kenneth E. Hagin Understanding the Anointing

C Benny Hinn The Anointing
God’s Anointing for You
Understanding the Anointing
The New Anointing
Double Portion Anointing

C Creflow A. Dollar The Anointing of El Shaddai
Anointed Because of His Blood

C Lori Wilke The Costly Anointing

C Kenneth Copeland The Anointing

When a person has been taught that the anointing and the Holy Spirit are not the same it is easy to understand why people can believe that Jesus personally gave Kenneth Hagin a “special anointing” in the area of divine healing. On the other hand, when one correctly sees that the Holy Spirit and the anointing are one in the same, then you can readily see that what brother Hagin received (if he indeed received anything) did not come from the Lord Jesus. Which leads me to conclude that his experience, although a real experience, is both extra-Biblical and anti-Biblical in nature and must be rejected.

A month later at another revival meeting Jesus appears to Hagin again. In this instance Hagin is attempting to cast a demon out of a man. After laying hands on him, the man is still bound by the demon and Hagin looks over his shoulder and sees Jesus

“I saw Jesus standing there as plainly as any man I had ever seen in my life! I thought everybody saw Him, but I learned later that no one in the congregation saw or heard Him except me. The congregation heard what I said, but they did not see or hear anyone else.”

Jesus rebukes Hagin for his lack of faith reminding him that He said “I said in my Name the demons will go.” Hagin realizes he has been in unbelief through his confession (he had asked the man to see if he could stand up) and has the man come back. This time he lays hands on him and commands him to stand up and he does!

Jesus appears to teach Hagin that his words have power, that he was saying “if” versus commanding the result. Hagin learns no matter how many gifts a person has, or how much power, it all works by faith, i.e. belief in the right words.

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December 1952 in Broken Bow Oklahoma Hagin is staying at a Pastor’s house. As he was getting on his knees to pray with the pastor, he was instantly “in the spirit.”

“On this night in 1952 in the parsonage kitchen, my physical senses were suspended. At that moment I didn’t know I was kneeling beside the kitchen chair. It seemed as if I was kneeling in a white cloud that enveloped me. Immediately I saw Jesus. . .”I am going to teach you concerning the devil and demons, and demon possession. . .from this night forwards, what is known in My Word as the gift of discerning of spirits will operate in your life when you are in the Spirit.”

One thing that is prominent in the visions Hagin receives is the element of being personally taught by the Lord Jesus Himself. Hagin takes his understanding of Scripture to the highest point possible, being personally taught by God, mouth to mouth! Hagin’s understanding of doctrine and the Bible does not come from mere man, or a seminary somewhere. No, his comes from the very lips of the risen Christ Himself! This places Hagin and his teachings on a very high plain, which possibly explains why he is so revered among Charismatics today.

The problem with this is manifold. To begin with much of what Jesus is teaching (or showing) him is simply not Biblical. Secondly, we have no record of anyone being personally taught doctrine by the risen Christ after the closing of the canon of Scripture. We know of a certainty that it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to teach us (Jh. 16:13) and that God has placed Pastor Teachers in the Body (Eph. 4:11-12). We do know that John saw Jesus and wrote down what he saw and heard. Apart from John no one else was personally taught by Christ. Paul was taken to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2) although he does not say Jesus taught him anything. So Hagin’s experiences place him above Paul, Peter, James, Luke, and others.

“The Lord said, “There are four divisions: (1) principalities, (2) powers, (3) rulers of the darkness of this world, (4) and wicked spirits in high places or in the heavenlies. . .The highest types of demons with which you have to deal with on earth, the rulers of the darkness of this world, rule all unsaved people, all who are in darkness. They rule over them and dominate them.”

Hagin’s Jesus goes on the reveal to him that people do the wicked things they do because of these spirits. This is the classic “the devil made me do it” of Flip Wilson given now divine verification! Certainly Satan is the Tempter (Matt. 4:3), but people sin because they are desperately wicked and are totally depraved. When Satan and his demons are locked up for one thousand years why does Jesus have to rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:15)? Because those who survive the great tribulation and are alive when Jesus returns are still fallen people and without any external force (demons) they will sin – it is their nature. All sin cannot be laid at the feet of Satan or his demons, much of what is sinful is based within the heart of man.

Then Jesus shows Hagin (in the spirit) a women who is a minister of the gospel, and is even used in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit (pg. 75). In the end, this woman listens to the demons speaking to her, she leaves her husband, and takes up with another man and renounces Jesus Christ.

“Lord what will happen to her?” . . She will spend eternity in the regions of the damned, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”. .And in the vision I saw her go down into the pit. I heard her awful screams.”

This is an important vision because in this one Jesus contradicts His own teaching concerning His sheep. Jesus said He would not loose any of the people given to him by the Father (Jh. 6:39). The Bible Jesus also stated that Jesus gives His sheep eternal life and they shall never perish (Jh. 10:27,28).

Hagin’s Jesus now reveals to us that a person can be saved, in ministry, and then decide to reject Christ and be lost. So somehow Christians can break the seal of the Holy Spirit, and by an act of their will undo all that God has wrought in them at the moment of salvation. This being speaking with Hagin is not the True Christ of the Bible, but some cleaver demonic counterfeit.

Jesus goes on to reveal to Hagin the true meaning of 1 John 5:16 and that we are not to pray for those who commit such sins, i.e. the sin unto death. Now we know that the sin unto death is the sin which leads to eternal damnation. In fact, Jesus goes onto the elucidate to Hagin the five ingredients which comprise the sin unto eternal damnation:

“1. Be enlightened (or convicted) to see his lost states, and to know that there is no way for him to be saved except through Jesus Christ. 2. Taste of the heavenly gift, which is Jesus. 3. Become partaker of the Holy Spirit, or be filled with the Holy Spirit. 4. Grow enough out of the babyhood stage to have tasted of the good Word of God. 5. Have the powers of the world to come – the gifts of the Spirit – operating in his life.”

Jesus gives Hagin (and us through Hagin) facts which again contradict the teaching of Scriptures. What Hagin has been taught is that a person is convicted of their lost condition and receives Jesus, the heavenly gift. They then go onto to get filled with the Holy Spirit – please understand that this for Hagin and most charismatics is a subsequent experience after salvation. This charismatic believer grows up having tasted the good Word of God (is any of It bad?) and has the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate in their lives. Then after this they willfully turn their backs on God and end up in hell!

The Bible teaches that the believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). Philippians 1:6 encourages us that He, God, who began the good work of salvation, shall complete this work in us. I Thessolonians 5:23, 24 we are assured that God will keep us blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Paul assures us that the Lord who called us will do it! The text Hagin claims Jesus taught him does not apply to blood-washed Christians. Furthermore the text in First John does not teach that we are not to pray for those who have committed a sin worthy of death.

Concerning this (peri ekeines). This sin unto death. That he should make request (hina erotesei). Sub-final use of hina with the first aorist active subjunctive of erotao, used here as in John 17:15, 20 (and often) for request rather than for question. John does not forbid praying for such cases; he simply does not command prayer for them. He leaves them to God. (Bold type the authors).

During this lenghty vision brother Hagin receives further startling revelations which have become cornerstones of his ministry. Jesus continues to speak to Hagin and lo-and-behold a monkey shaped demon jumps up between them and starts causing a ruckus. Hagin can see Jesus is speaking but he cannot hear what He is saying. Hagin waits for Jesus to command the demon to go, but He does not. Finally Hagin commands the demon to shut up and begone . . . and the demon flees in terror from him.

“I was still wondering why Jesus had not stopped this evil spirit from interfering, and of course Jesus knew what I was thinking. He said, “If you hadn’t done something about that, I couldn’t have.”

Hagin immediately corrects Jesus by telling Him surely He meant wouldn’t have. Jesus says no He could not have done anything. Hagin protests some more and Jesus tells him “sometimes your theology needs upending” (pg. 87). Then Hagin decides to get theological with Jesus and says:

“Lord, even though I am seeing You with my eyes, even though I hear your voice speaking to me as plainly as any voice I have ever heard, I cannot accept that unless You prove it to me by the Word of God. . . I will not accept any vision, I will not accept any revelation, if it cannot be proved by the Word of God.”

It is obvious that for brother Hagin proving something by the Word of God consists of finding a text, regardless of its context, and thus proving the validity of a concept by mere proof-texting, which is no proof at all.

Jesus then shows Hagin texts where Jesus gave the believer authority over Satan and demons. Jesus tells Hagin no place in the New Testament are we to ask Jesus to fight Satan or demons on our behalf. The reason Almighty God cannot do anything about Satan is because He has given His authority to the Church. Unless we deal with Satan the job will not get done. Jesus has done all He is going to concerning the devil and now it is up to the Body of Christ to enforce his defeat by using our authority in Jesus name. The subject of our authority over Satan and demons became a thrust of Hagin’s ministry. So much so he wrote a book entitled “The Authority of the Believer.” A main problem with this book, apart from the bad theology, is the fact that he plegerized the vast majority of it.

The believer does not act autonomously in the spiritual life. Any power or ability we possess comes from God, it is in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). When the gospel is preached and people are saved – who saved them, the evangelist or the Lord? The Lord. If you do pray for the sick and they are genuinely healed by God, who healed them? The one who prayed or the Lord? The Lord. If an evil spirit is indeed cast out, who cast it out, the individual or the Lord? The Lord. In all cases, it is the Lord operating by His Spirit through His servant. He alone gets the glory. As in the other cases, what Hagin claims Jesus has taught him is at variance with the Scripture and in most cases with logic.

In 1958 in Port Natches Texas Hagin is singing in other tongues during a meeting and Jesus suddenly appears on the platform to him. This time Jesus is not alone, He has come with Hagin’s angel –

“Then, pointing to the angel standing beside Him, He said, “This is your angel.” ” My angel?” I asked. “Yes, your angel, and if you will respond to him, he will appear to you as I will at times; and he will give your guidance and direction concerning the things of life, for angels are ministering spirits who are sent to minister for those who are heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:14).

Obviously is Jesus is busying running some other aspect of the universe He will now have His angel come and guide brother Hagin in the affairs of life. Nowhere does the New Testament validate an experience of this type. Angels do not give individuals guidance and direction concerning the things of life. Last time I checked that ministry was reserved for the Holy Spirit alone.

We do read some warnings concerning angels however, which brother Hagin would do well to heed:

Col. 2:18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,

2 Cor. 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

Galatians 1:8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

No one in the Bible is told by God that an angel will guide them in the affairs of life. Angels do minister, they do the bidding of God, but they are not personal advisors. Earlier we read where brother Hagin is given a special anointing, an anointing so special it is not found in Scripture. Next we read that he is personally doctrine by the Head of the Church. Now we read that he is given a personal guide, a spirit-guide if you will, who will guide him in the affairs of life, if he will open himself up to this spirit-being. It would seem that brother Hagin has had more supernatural experiences than all the apostles of the Bible combined!

February 1959, we find brother Hagin in the hospital with an injured elbow. Around dinner time he hears some footsteps coming towards his room and he looks up and it is Jesus!

“As I looked closer, I saw it was Jesus! It seemed as if my hair stood on end. Cold chill bumps pooped out all over my body, and I couldn’t say a word. . .I am going to talk to you now about the prophets ministry. You have missed it and have only been in my permissive will because you have reversed the order, putting the teaching ministry first and the prophet’s ministry second.”

Brother Hagin was operating in the permissive will of God, which is why the devil was allowed to hurt his elbow. Jesus came to speed up the healing process but also to get brother Hagin on track, i.e. to get him to flow in the office of a prophet more so than that of a teacher. Jesus went on to reveal to brother Hagin that the ministry of the prophet and apostle are still for the Church today (since the late 1940’s Pentecostals had accepted this erroneous belief). Jesus then defines the ministry of the prophet:

“Jesus went on the talk to me about the ministry of the prophet, explaining that a prophet is one who has visions and revelations; things revealed to him. . .Therefore the word of knowledge and the discerning of spirits plus prophecy are operating in my ministry when I am in the Spirit. This constitutes the office of the prophet.”

Now after almost two thousand years we have further divine revelation into what exactly makes one a prophet. All we need do is accept what brother Hagin says Jesus taught him. A prophet has visions and revelations. A prophet operates in the word of knowledge, which Pentecostals define as the supernatural ability to know what is currently happening in a person’s life or at times a city or nation. A prophet operates in the discerning of spirits, the supernatural ability to see into the realm of the spirit, literally see angels and demons at work. Lastly, they will naturally prophesy. All of which, as we have read, are active in brother Hagin’s life. So obviously, he is a prophet as well as an evangelist and teacher, and pastor.

Brother Hagin is not just an ordinary run-of-the-mill preacher. He is the prophet of the Lord God and people had better listen to him . . . or else:

“He went on to say that if a Church wouldn’t accept the ministry of a prophet, they wouldn’t accept His Word. He added that if a pastor wouldn’t accept this message, judgment would come to him. The Lord said that if He gave me a message or a revelation for a pastor, I should deliver it; and if He gave me a message for a church or an individual, I should deliver it. . .If you give a message for an individual, church, or a pastor, and they don’t accept it, you will not be responsible. They will be responsible. There will be ministers who won’t accept it and who will fall dead in the pulpit.”

Two weeks later brother Hagin finished preaching somewhere and the pastor did not accept his message and fell dead! Naturally, writing this has caused me sleepless nights. NOT!

As before, there is nothing in the New Testament to support this concept. The Biblical Jesus did say in Mark 6:11 to shake the dust off your feet if your witness is not received. He did not say “they will die if they reject your message.” In fact, Jesus rebuked John and James when they wanted to call lightening down on a town which rejected Jesus . . . like Jesus I say to brother Hagin “you do not know of what spirit you are” when you make statements like these.

http://www.discernment.org/wordfaith/kenhagin.htm

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