Who Is Tommy Tenney?
He was raised in the United Pentecostal Church (UPC), a denomination that often has been criticized for its strict standards of dress and conduct and for its requirements that converts be baptized in Jesusí name rather than in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He left the group, he says, when he realized that he "couldnít enforce some of the views" of the UPC ó including rules that to this day forbid pastors in the group from owning televisions. Because Tenney honors his spritual heritage, and because his parents are prominent leaders in the UPC in Louisiana, some people become suspicious of his theology when they learn about his background. (Charisma, March, 2000, p. 55, underlining added for emphasis)Several months ago Truth Matters dealt with the UPC and its derivatives, a.k.a. "Oneness" Pentecostals. We proved that the UPC is a bible-based cult. Without going into great detail suffice it to say that the UPC believes in salvation by works, that one can loose their salvation, that one must be baptized by immersion in Jesus name only and speak in other tongues in order to be "fully saved."
ē Mr. Tenneyís initial belief system was formed by cultists.
ē He only recently "left" the UPC.
ē According to my research he has not obtained any sound theological training since leaving the UPC, ergo he has not aftempted to replace the aberrant doctrine with sound doctrine, which indicates that he still believes much of what he was taught from childhood.
ē Mr. Tenney has not publicly recanted his former UPC beliefs. He still says he holds this cult group in "honor."
The God Chasers is published by Destiny
Image Publishers which is headquartered in Shippensburg, PA. The founder
of Destiny Image is Don Non who publishes only charismatic extremist authors,
or books which support the current "holy laughter" revival.
ICCDM is on the Destiny Image electronic mail list service, so we receive regular updates as well as his newsletter. Don Non is the gentleman who stated that the way in which Christians are to test the validity of spiritual experiences is solely by their "fruit." Here is one of his statements:
A time is coming where there wonít be an Assembly of God, or a Church of God, or Lutherans, or Methodists, or Catholics, or Baptists or Pentecostals, or Evangelicals. . .there will be those who are part of Godís Church, and those who arenít. When that day comes, who will you be serving? Yourselfí? Or the God who doesnít care about the little pieces of paper we use to limit Him?. . Itís time to throw away the old doctrinal differences. Itís time to stop arguing over whoís wrong and whoís right. Itís time to stop thinking about ways to get more people "into" church. Itís time to show the world that God loves them (Destiny Image Digest, article by Don Non, 1998).Charismatic extremists have as their credo "doctrine divides," to which I always answer "you bet it does, it is supposed to!" My friends, the very nature of truth is divisive. Truth will always stand in stark contrast to everything false! However, if biblical truth and doctrinal integrity are not held in high esteem then there is no problem regarding doctrinal beliefs, after all doctrine divides. The only thing that matters is whether or not the author is in agreement with the current trends within charismatic extremist circles, which Mr. Tenney most certainly is, as I will now demonstrate.
Who Endorses The God Chasers?
I always pay attention to those who endorse the books I read. Why? Because those who endorse a book are often more important than who publishes it. An endorsement gives added "weight" to the content of the book. Here are just a few of the people who endorse this book:
Spearhead behind "The Generals of Intercession." The
following is from her web site (http://www.generals.org/index-cindy.htm),
bold type added for emphasis: Widely recognized as a prophet
to the nations, Dr. Cindy Jacobs is the President and Co-Founder of
Generals of Intercession, a missionary organization devoted to training
in prayer and spiritual warfare.
Ken Gott ó One of the people responsible for importing the "Toronto Blessing" to the nation of England. "You see, weíre God chasers" Ken told the gathering. "If I chare Him long enough I might just catch Him. Iím not chasing gold dust or gold fillings - if they happen as signs following then hallelujah!" (taken from http://www.crown-house.com/Revival/TOP2.jpg).
Gerald Coates ó Well known by English apologists and heresy-hunters" for his many false prophetic pronouncements and overall support of the recent wave of revivalism.
Bob Weiner ó Founder of Maranatha Ministries, a campus ministry which I am personally familiar with. Weiner taught a very abusive form of"shepherding" which shipwrecked the spiritual walk of many college aged people. Maranatha was going to be branded a cult unless changes were quickly made by Weiner. He dismantled "Maranatha Ministries" and re-baptized it "Weiner Ministries International." But there are links available -- (http://christianyouth-intl.com/).
"Apostle" Emanuele Cannistraci ó He is considered by todayís breed of New Order of the Latter Rain adherents to be a restored "apostle to the nations."
Rev. Ban Pierce ó Senior pastor of Rock Church in Baltimore. Rock Churchís most recent claim to fame is that God is allegedly manifesting gold dust & filling peopleís teeth with gold in their revival services. Tommy Tenney has spoken there several tunes. Rock Church is a veritable hotbed of every form of charismatic extremism.
Sergio Scataglini ó He was covered in the Truth Matters Fire Baptized issue 2 months ago. He claims to have received the baptism of fire and complete sanctification. Now he is busy "imparting" this mystic-fire into others.
Ted Haggard ó One of the key leaders in the Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare Movement He, along with Cindy Jacobs and Peter Wagner travel all over the world "pulling down satanic strongholds" so people can come to know Jesus Christ!
I take the time to cite these endorsers of The God Chasers because it reveals who supports the concepts within the book itself. All of these people I have cited are charismatic extremists of the most egregious variety. All of these individuals filly endorse holy laughter, spiritual drunkenness, restored apostles & prophets, being slain in the spirit, new revelations from God, gold dust & fillings. And now, The God Chasers.
The aphorism nothing happens in a vacuum is certainly true for our spiritual lives. The directions we take are always based on something, and something drove Mr. Tenney to the conclusions in his book:
THE CONTENT OF THE BOOK ITSELF
What Causes Tommy to Become A "God Chaser"?
The gnawing vacuum of emptiness in the midst of my accomplishments just got worse. I was in a frustrating funk, a divine depression of destiny. (Pg. 2)Tenney felt a worsening emptiness in his soul. He was in a funk, frustrated and depressed. On the same page he goes on to say he was "sick of church." His statement, which no doubt is an honest assessment of his emotional condition, should have been recognized by him as warning signs of potential spiritual danger. People historically have chosen wrong directions and made wrong decisions when they got caught up in the realm of subjective feelings, good or bad.
Then he closed his Bible, gripped the edges of the pulpit with trembling hands, and said, "The word of the Lord to us is to stop seeking His benefits and seek Him. We are not to seek His hands any longer, but seek His face. In that instant, I heard what sounded like a thunderclap echo through the building, and the pastor was literally picked up and thrown backward about ten feet, effectively separating him from the pulpit. When he went backward, the pulpit fell forward. The beautiful flower arrangement positioned in front of it fell to the ground, but by the time the pulpit hit the ground, it was already in two pieces. It had split into two pieced almost as if li2htnin2 had hit it! At that instant the tangible terror of the presence of God filled that room. (Pg. 7, underlining and bold type added for emphasis).Tenney immediately steps up to the microphone and tells the people "in case you are not aware of it God has just moved into this place." Oh really? What does he base this on? He interprets the pastor being thrown back 10 feet "effectively separating him from the pulpit," and then the pulpit falling down and breaking in two pieces as being proof God had arrived!
If it was indeed our God who caused these things to take place, there could be another interpretation of these events. It could also be a sign of Godís displeasure with the pastorís direction of the flock. Tenney had previously ministered in earlier services before this Sunday. These earlier services had denigrated into emotionalism with little to no ministry of the Word. Since the Word of God was not being honored, couldnít God have given these sign-seekers a "sign" by separating the pastor from the sacred desk? Then couldnít God take the pulpit, which was not being used to properly teach Godís people, and broken it in 2 pieces as a demonstration of His anger? Tenney goes on to report that the "tangible terror of the presence of God filled that room."Where does he get this concept of the tangible terror of Godís presence? In the KJV there are five verses which use the word terror and none of them have anything positive for those on the receiving end of it (see Isa. 10:33; Eze. 26:21; Eze. 32:32; 2Co 5:11; 1Pe 3:6;). The Bible does plainly teach that in the presence of the Lord is "fullness of joy," (see Ps. 16:11).
Grown men were ballet dancing; little children were weeping in repentance. . .I watched people walk through the doors of repentance, and one after another experienced the glory and the presence of God as He came near. Then they wanted baptized. . .Prominent people walked up to me and stated, "Iíve got to be baptized. Somebody tell me what to do." They joined with the parade of the unsaved, who were now saved, provoked purely by encountering the presence of God. There was no sermon and no real song ó just His Spirit that day. (Pg. 8, bold type added)There are many problems with this account, The emphasis on water baptism seems to incredible to be genuine. No one asked to be baptized in the Book of Acts as purely a response to a mystical power encounter. On the contrary, they were commanded to be baptized (see Acts 10:48).
Tenneyís View of the Holy Scriptures
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
God chasers have a lot in common. Primarily, they are not interested in camping out on some dusty truth known to everyone. They are after the fresh presence of the Almighty. . .If youíre a God chaser, you wonít be happy to simply follow Godís tracks. You will follow them until you apprehend His presence. (Introduction, bold type added).Biblical truth and doctrinal truth are denigrated from the bookís introduction to its last chapter. Tenney believes in the erroneous concept of "Present Day Truth" (PDT).
The difference between the truth of God and revelation is very simple. Truth is where Godís been. Revelation is where God is. Truth is Godís tracks. Itís His trail, His path, but it leads to what? It leads to Him. Perhaps the masses of people are happy to know where God has been, but true God chasers are not content just to study Godís trail, His truths; they want to know Him. (Introduction, bold type added).The Bible is the past, it is where God has been. Biblical truth is Godís tracks, the trail He has left. However, true God Chasers are not content just to study Godís truths (the Bible), they want to know Him.
When God is called the truth, this is to be understood in its most comprehensive sense. He is the truth first of all in a metaphysical sense, that is, in Him the idea of the Godhead is perfectly realized; He is all that He as God should be. . .He is also the truth in an ethical sense, and as such reveals Himself as He really is, so that His revelation is absolutely reliable. (Systematic Theology, Louis, Berkhof, pg. 69).Truth by its very nature is eternal and unchanging. If something was ever true, it is true today. Somehow the God Chaser (who is not content to study the passé truth of the Bible) is seeking a direct experience of God apart from the Scriptures. The God Chaser, according to Tenney, knows there is more to knowing God than the Bible can supply.
A true God chaser is not happy with just past truth he must have present truth. God chasers donít want to just study from the moldy pages of what God has done; theyíre anxious to see what God is doing. (Introduction, bold type added).The Bible is more than enough to satisfy the soul of this variety of God Chaser. Tenneyís God Chaser must be fed a diet of present truth. Where does this truth come from? What form does it take? How can it be verified as being true? These are questions Mr. Tenney does not answer.
There is a vast difference between present truth and past truth. Iím afraid that most of what the Church has studied is past truth, and very little of what we know is present truth. (Introduction).Tenney makes a non-existent distinction between "past" and "present" truth. Since God Himself is the fount of all truth, and He is eternal, neither past, present or future ó how can "truth" be considered past or present? To believe such a thing is epistemological suicide!
We have studied Godís Word and His old love letters to the churches so much that some of us claim to know all about God. (Pg. 1, bold type added).I have never heard anyone claim to know all about God. Tenney is advocating some other means than biblical study as the method by which we can know God. As a former charismatic extremist I am very familiar with his line of reasoning which can be boiled down to the following statement:
By studying the Bible one can at best know about God. There is a vast difference between knowing God and knowing about God. Knowing God comes through direct power encounters and through biblical study. These power encounters are usually of a variety which cannot be found within the context of the dusty moldy pages of Godís past tracks.This is a false argument, it presupposes that knowing about God through His Word is something different than really knowing God. The only manner in which any believer can know truly know God is through His Word. It is by His Word that we are to judge any and all spiritual experiences. The reason for the confusion and heresy within any Christian group is very simple ó they have sought to know God apart from the scriptures and the end result has always been disastrous.
I donít care how much you know about the Bible, or what you know about Him. . .Iím afraid we have satiated our hunger for Him by reading old love letters from Him in the Epistles of the New Testament. (Pg. 15, bold type added).Tenney continues to downplay the centrality of biblical study in the life of the believer. He continues to refer to Godís holy and inerrant Word as "old" love letters. What he does not tell the reader is what they are to study in order to come to this subjective alleged knowledge of God. Tenney, like all extremists bases his argument solely on experience and not solid biblical footings:
But a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with only an argument. . .If we can lead people into the manifest presence of God, all false theological houses of cards will tumble down. (Pg. 20, bold type added).This is one of the favorite arguments of the extremist "personal experience is superior to rationality." Tenneyís view can be restated in the following manner: "Iíve had an experience and you cannot talk me out of it regardless of what the old love letters may state to the contrary."
ē Personal experiences are just that, personal and thus subjective and as such they are unable to be independently verified.The Church has become "satisfied" with merely reading the Word of God, studying the Bible (shuffling from dusty room to dusty room, i.e. the books of the Bible). . .as if God was still speaking to as! That is a blasphemous concept of the Church and of Godís Word. The last time I checked into a "dusty mom" called Ephesians I learned Jesus Christ is still in control of His Church:
ē All of our personal experiences are perceived through fallen corrupted senses which are untrustworthy. Thus any spiritual experience should be closely questioned. How? By seeking verification within the context of scripture.
Weíve become satisfied with church proceeding in the dim "normal and status quo" mode. We just keep going through the motions, lighting the lamps and shuffling from dusty room to dusty room as if God was still speaking to us. (Pg. 31,boldtype added).
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places], Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And bath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all thingsl to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
Tenney is on a quest for "more" of God. His quest has taken him beyond the confines of the Bible. To him, the Bible is merely Godís tracks, where God has been. Its only purpose is to lead us to where He is. Since the revelation of scripture stops at that point we then must depart from the Bible and launch off into the abyss by following mystical experience and what extremists refer to as present day truth. Tenney has far more respect for experience than he does for Godís Word ---
In all my reading and study of the Bible, I have never found any person mentioned in the Scriptures who really had a "God encounter" and then "backslid" and rebelled against God. Once you experience God in His glory, you canít turn away from Him or forget His touch. Itís not just an argument or a doctrine; itís an experience. (Pg. 35, bold type added).I urge Mr. Tenney to go back and re-read his Bible a little more closely. Three examples quickly spring to my mind. How about King Saul, he had several God encounters and we know how he ended up. At one point King Saul was moved upon by the Holy Spirit and he prophesied with the prophets (1 Sa. 10:10). King David had many "God encounters" and he backslid into adultery and murder. The Apostle Peter, walked with God incarnate, was on the Mount of Transfiguration and yet denied Christ (Lk. 22:57). One could add Noah, Abraham and Samson to the list quite easily. Mr. Tenney has not read his Bible very carefully. The "more" of God Tenney is writing about is what he calls Godís manifest presence. He defines this presence as ---
There are also times when he concentrates the very essence of His being into what many call "the manifest presence of God." When this happens, there is a strong sense and awareness that God Himself has "entered the room." . .For divine reasons, God chooses to concentrate or reveal Himself more strongly in one place than another, or more at one time than other (Pp. 36-37).His definition is the one accepted by most charismatic believers. It explains why sign-gift believers have willingly trudged from one place to another seeking the "presence" of God. God was moving in Toronto, then He started moving in Pensacola, now He is moving in Smithton Missouri. I personally know individuals who have done nothing for the last 15 years but "follow the glory cloud." These folks work part-time jobs, sleep on peoples couches and then pick-up-stakes when they perceive or are told the Lord has moved on. The best man at my wedding is one such man. He has literally crisscrossed the nation attempting to be at the place where God "is." The result? A man in his 40ís who is as spiritually stable as nitroglycerin on a hot day traveling on a bumpy road.
Do you still need to hear a thundering voice from behind the pulpit? A biting prophetic utterance to correct your ways? Or are you able to read the emotion of God on His face? Are you tenderhearted enough that His eye can guide you and convict your heart of sin? (Pg. 38, bold type added).Yes, I for one do still need to hear a "thundering" voice from behind the pulpit expounding Godís Word which hopefully will be a prophetic utterance to correct my faltering steps!
We need to learn how to entertain and welcome the manifest presence of God to such a degree that just the residue of what has gone on among us brings sinners to the point of conviction and conversion instantaneously. I am hungry for that kind of expression of revival. . .(Pg. 46, bold type added).Just the residue of His presence will (1) bring sinners to the point of conviction and (2) convert them instantaneously! No sharing of the Word, no witnessing, just a residue of a mystic presence will now do the work. His hunger will never be satisfied, because it is not a legitimate hunger. The Bible plainly teaches ó
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!
Tenney has the belief that the early Christians (before the canon of Scripture) all walked in this realm of mystical union and communion with God:
They walked and talked with Him in such a rich level of intimacy that it wasnít necessary for them to pour over dusty love letter that were written long ago. They had Godís love notes freshly written on their hearts. (Pg. 74, bold type added).His statement would be funny if it were not so pathetic. To begin with we have very little information of the daily spiritual lives of the early Christians. He provides absolutely no evidence upon which to base these statements.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy chilthen, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
In Chapter 7 of his book Tenney states that "in our present state we are in no position to affect anything," (pg. 101). We need to enter into this mystical realm of the manifest presence of God in order for the Church to progress. I guess the last 2,000 years of Church history and the incalculable advances of the Church in the world really do not count. He has come up with a new term to bolster his views called "presence evangelism,"
This is where people take note saying, They have been with Jesus" (see Acts 4:13). This is when the residue of God on a person creates a divine radiation zone of the manifest presence of God, so much so that it affects those around you. "Shadow healing" would fall into this category. . .The Hebrews believed that the anointing would extend as far as your shadow reached. (pg. 114)Presence evangelism? Where does he come up with this? He does cite the one example of Peterís shadow falling on the sick and the sick being healed (Acts 5;15). First, Peter was an Apostle. Second, we have no record that this ever happened again. Lastly, there is no biblical record of this ever happening in anyone elseís life or ministry. For Tenney to cite this miraculous event as normative and available to those who will have this presence on their bodies is simply a false teaching, and one that promotes a false hope in the spiritual lives of those who attempt to achieve such "power." He mentions that the "Hebrews" believed the anointing went as far as a manís shadow ó where did he get this notion? I cannot find any reference to such a belief in my research, and Tenney does not supply any documentation to back up his claim.
Charismatic believers in general have always been seeking the next "move" of the Spirit or a higher "level" in God because their current practices and experiences do not satisfy their souls. This spiritual ennui is now transpiring as the Toronto/Pensacola phenomena is winding down. Various leaders have been sticking their spiritual fingers in the air seeing which way the wind of the Spirit is now blowing. I believe that Tenneyís book about striving to manifest a mystical presence and experience a non-biblical pseudo-intimacy with God is part of the "next move."
(I admit these have been strong words, but I refuse to even attempt to be" politically correct" regarding what can only be considered spiritual poison)