Discernment the Size of A Flea
An Open Letter to Charisma Magazine

October 10, 2004

Dear Charisma:

Your recent article, "Prophetic Movement Confronts Extremes of Suppression, Sensationalism" (CharismaNow update, 10/7/04), prompted within me an acute case of righteous indignation. Yes, I am angry, but for all the right reasons. Why? It's simple. Right now, the body of Christ is under an incredible bombardment from a star-studded parade of prophetic performers--in numbers never before seen in the history of the world--and they are preying on the innocent, gullible, precious souls for whom Jesus Christ died for. Self-proclaimed, self-serving false prophets, super-charged with unBiblical revelations, visions and regular visitations from angels, Old Testament prophets, dead faith healers and even Jesus Christ, Himself. Super-charged false teachers, whose Scriptural interpretations ascend beyond common sense, sound reasoning and, most important, beyond the truth of God's word. False prophets and false teachers, whose lies and deception cause a continuous division within the body of Christ; whose showboat antics and scripture-twisting tactics drive the unsaved further away from Christ and deeper into sin. Case in point: On December 31, 1989, Benny Hinn delivered a series of clear-cut, easy to understand prophecies for the 1990's:

One need not be a Christian to discern the flagrant error in the above prophecies which, according to Benny Hinn, were revealed to him by the "Lord" and "Holy Spirit." Furthermore, any Christian who has discernment the size of a flea would be able to discern Hinn's errors, discount him as a false prophet, then avoid him as the Bible commands: When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:22). Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-16). Avoid him? Label him a false prophet? Yes, the Bible says. But according to your article, Mike Bickle disagrees:"Mike Bickle, who was pastor of Kansas City Fellowship in Kansas City, Mo., in 1990 when the ministry of several prophets in his church brought criticism from a group of charismatic pastors in the city, cautions labeling prophets as 'false,' even when their predictions do not come to pass. "'The easy response is to discount a prophetic person who gets it wrong," he said. 'That's not the right response. We have the 'horrible' job called discernment.' 

"Instead of false prophecy, Bickle identifies much that occurs in current prophetic circles as 'soulish' or 'humanly generated,' claiming that it comes from people who are genuinely sincere, but ultimately overzealous and attention-seeking" ( CharismaNow update, 10/7/04).

Goodness gracious! Am I missing something here? Did I just read that Mike Bickle:

Are Bickle's statements Biblical, or are they nothing more than a conditioning process to turn Christians away from the truth? For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4). For years, many Christians have been conditioned to accept anything that comes down the pike--no matter how far-out or ridiculous. Part of that conditioning process is to lift-up, admire and adore false prophets, downplay their false prophecies with a grin and shrug, brush the false prophecies off as simple mistakes, then concentrate on "all of the good things" the false prophet does. This is extremely dangerous territory for the Christian to be wandering around in. It opens the door wide open for the acceptance of all forms of deception, and shuts the door on Scriptural commands to test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21); test the spirits (1 John 4:1); defend the faith (Jude 3), and proper interpretation of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15). In Mark 13:22, Jesus warned that false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. Yet,untold numbers of Christians are being seduced by individuals claiming to be Christian, along with the modern-day, multi-billion dollar per-year "signs and wonders" extravaganza. This is evidenced by the massive numbers of followers who continue to donate money, attend conventions and "healing" crusades, purchase reading materials and trinkets of the trade. In spite of the deception, the followers defend those who are ripping them off spiritually and financially, and they do so without hesitation. Another case in point: the Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society), are infamous for their false teachings. Their own false prophecies concerning the return of Christ and the end of the world date back to the late 1800's. Here are but a few of the excuses they used when their prophecies failed: Sound familiar? It should. Even the Jehovah's Witnesses admit to making mistakes. However, they do it in such a way as to draw attention to their "mistakes," not that they are dyed-in-the-wool false prophets. Thus, if we follow Bickle's "discernment" in these areas, then a bank robber isn't a thief; a case-of-beer-a-day drinker isn't an alcoholic, and a woman who requires money for sex isn't a prostitute. And, the above word-for-word quotes from Benny Hinn's December 31, 1989 prophecies are not false prophecies at all, just simple mistakes? Consequently, we're left with a man who claims divine revelations from the Lord. His revelations fail miserably. He's not a false prophet as the Bible teaches. Instead, he's still a prophet who makes mistake after mistake after mistake. Eventually, his entire ministry becomes an enigma within an enigma; confusion within confusion, until no one--except God--can sort it out. And, at some point during the process, the false prophet uses his position of unquestionable authority to levy threats and curses upon anyone--man, woman or child--who exposes him publicly. In his book, Growing in the Prophetic, Bickle wrote that "someone suggested that I write a follow up book that revealed all our mistakes in the prophetic ministry. He suggested I call it Some Said We Blundered. I almost agreed. Indeed, we've made many mistakes on our journey in the prophetic ministry" (1996, p.11). In reality, a book revealing their prophetic mistakes may develop into a multi-volume encyclopedia if, that is, there are enough trees to produce the paper. Nevertheless, true Christianity is conviction of sin, repentance, accountability and responsibility. Indeed, if these people are Christian, let them repent, be responsible for their own actions, be accountable to the body of Christ and, most important, be accountable to Jesus Christ and the truth of His word. I wish Bickle would change his mind and write the book, but rename it, Warning! God Said We Are False Prophets. As a suggestion, future editions of the book could include the next wave of false prophets and their "mistakes" uttered in the name of God, along with a special chapter, titled, "Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: What To Say When Your Prophecy Fails." A book of that nature would come in handy for discerning Christians, especially those of us who aren't afraid to confront and expose the false prophets and false teachers of our day (Romans 16:17; Ephesians 5:11). "[Mike] Bickle cannot be talking about biblical prophecy or anything like it. He is, in fact, talking about human guesswork and human speculation. He is talking about hunches and hoping to be right at least part of the time. The modern prophets duck behind their humanness to cover their repeated failures. This is not Scriptural prophecy at all, but percentages. This is a guessing game called prophecy. This is simply playing the odds and trying to be right on guesstimates" (Richard Fisher, "Growing Pains In The Prophetic," 2001). But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2:1-3). Christians serve a holy God--not some mamby-pamby, fly-by-night, milk-sop, easily manipulated deity that changes its mind at the drop of a hat or at the whimsical lips of a false prophet. Charisma, the handwriting is on the wall. I challenge you to cease the promotion of the false prophets and false teachers of our day within the pages of your magazine and your hearts, repent, and be accountable to the body of Christ and, most important, be accountable to Jesus Christ and His word. After all, to do so only takes sincerity and discernment the size of a flea...

Sincerely in Christ,
Bud Press, Director
Christian Research Service
(Jude 3)

Bud Press is a Christian Investigative Researcher and the Director of Christian Research Service. As a service to the body of Christ, Bud provides information, documentation and referral on a wide variety of issues to individuals, companies, pro-family groups, outreach ministries and the Christian news media.