Discernment the Size of A
An Open Letter to Charisma Magazine
October 10, 2004
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:
"The Lord also tells me to tell you, In the mid-90's--about
'94 or '95--no later than that, God will destroy the homosexual community
of America (applause). But He will not destroy it with what many minds
have thought Him to be. He will destroy it with fire. And many will turn
and be saved, and many will rebel and be destroyed.""The Spirit of God
tells me, An earthquake will hit the east coast of America and destroy
much in the 90's. Not one place will be safe from earthquakes in the 90's.
These who have not known earthquakes will know it.""The Spirit tells me,
Fidel Castro will die in the 90's. (Ooh my.) Some will try to kill him
and they will not succeed. But there will come a change in his physical
health, and he will not stay in power. And Cuba will be visited of God.
I will visit Cuba. Ooh. Ooh. Holy Spirit, do you mean he'll die physically?
What do you mean, Holy Spirit? Tell me please. My. Oooh. Holy Spirit just
said to me, It could be worse than any death you can imagine. There's some
question in my spirit on what kind of death the Lord means. I'm not sure.
I see him. Uh. I see Cas, I, I see Castro bent over behind bars. I don't
know what that means.""Oooh. A world dictator is coming on the scene. My.
A short man. He's a short man. I see a short man, whose a perfect incarnation
of Satan. ("Tongues.") Never in my life have I had anything happen like
what's happening to me now. This man will rule the world. The next few
years you will see him. But not long after that, you will see Me."
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
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
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
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"
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
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:
"cautions labeling prophets as 'false,' even when
their predictions do not come to pass"?
believes that it is wrong "...to discount a prophetic
person who gets it wrong"?
believes that discernment is a horrible job?
believes that a false prophecy isn't false and lying
in the name of God, but originates from sincere people who are simply "overzealous"
and seeking time in the spotlight?
"God's faithful people on earth emphasized the
importance of the dates 1914 and 1918 and 1925. They had much to say about
these dates and what would come to pass, but all they predicted did not
come to pass" (Vindication, vol. 1, 1931, p. 146)."There was a measure
of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning
the years 1914, 1918 and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time.
Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the
Scriptures; and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and
predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely (and
they do rely) upon the Word of God as to the events that must come to pass"
(J. F. Rutherford, Vindication, 1931, pp. 338-339)."True, there
have been those in times past who predicted an 'end' to the world, even
announcing a specific date. Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come.
They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing from
such people were God's truths and the evidence that He was using and guiding
them" (Awake magazine, Oct. 8, 1968)."So, does Jehovah have a prophet
to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? These
questions can be answered in the affirmative...This 'prophet' was not one
man, but was a body of men and women...Today they are known as Jehovah's
Christian witnesses...Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts
as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that
this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?" (Watchtower
magazine, April 1, 1972, p. 197).
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
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.