A DIFFERENT GOSPEL?
The purpose of this document is to bring into question a number of the teachings and actions that have recently come to Micronesia via people who have had hands laid on them by Steve Hill, evangelist of the Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola, Fl. Quotes will be used from the Brownsville meetings on Guam as well as leaders at Brownsville and the Toronto Airport Fellowship in Canada, since these movements are linked directly, and what was said and done in both cases are virtually the same.1 Their statements and works will be compared directly to Scripture.2 This is done because we, as the body of Christ, are to always test the spirits and preach as well as stand firmly in the sound doctrine found in Scripture.
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Ti. 4:16
"(An overseer) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Titus 1:9
It is hoped that this paper will help your church to decide whether or not to advise your church members to attend the Brownsville phenomenon meetings and/or have the people from this movement lay hands on them. It is the intention of this document to highlight the teachings and actions of this movement that are in contrast to sound doctrine and Scriptural teachings. If you are convinced that this movement has, indeed, deviated from Scripture, then it would be wise to consider the following admonition from the Galations:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other and the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" Gal. 1:6-8
Adding to, subtracting from, or going outside of Scripture is a clear indication that a "different gospel" is being taught or evidenced. It is our duty as the body of Christ to continue in sound doctrine and preach the gospel that is based squarely on the revelation of Scripture.
MAJOR POINTS OF DEPARTURE FROM SCRIPTURE
(1) Brownsville AOG and its adherents have advertised repeatedly that the Brownsville phenomenon started as a repentance-based revival.
Even as recently as the March 1997 issue of Christianity Today, it is being promoted as a revival that started on Fathers Day of 1995 with people falling down under under the conviction, confession and repentance of sin. Since all other recorded "revivals" have started that way, this has led many people to believe that this is a true and classic "revival". However, upon viewing the video tape of the first day of the revival, there were no cases of falling down under conviction of sin but rather people coerced to come to the front of the church so that Steve Hill could lay his hands on them and confer the "anointing" that he had received at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in England. Steve Hill gave a lengthy message, most of which was prepping the audience that they were going to receive something when he laid hands on them.
Clearly this is a misunderstanding of what a classic revival is or an outright deception designed to fool people into thinking that this is a repentance-based revival when in fact it clearly started as a fairly typical "laying on of hands" "transference-of-power" type of service. No doubt there are some in their meetings who come to true repentance when the gospel message is preached clearly, because Rom. 1:16 says: " I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." At the meetings we attended, the message of repentance was preached, but little was mentioned about trusting in Christ for salvation, and nothing was said about Christ dying or that He rose from the dead the basic elements of the gospel message. If the gospel is not preached in its entirety, a person is not trusting and standing on the right foundation and his belief will be in vain (1 Cor. 15:1-11). It was also observed by many witnesses that these meetings were full of people who came for the obvious purpose of receiving the "anointing" from the hands of one of the "anointed". This will be dealt with in the next point, but it is clear that this "revival" is not and never has been as advertised. The Scripture is clear about deception:
Isa 32:7 The scoundrel's methods are wicked, he makes up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.
Pr 19:5 A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.
Ps 144:11 Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.
2Co 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
(2) Most people attend the Brownsville phenomenon meetings for the "laying on of hands" experience, and though the gospel is sometimes preached, the high point of the meeting is always the "anointing", not repentance and salvation.
Steve Hill was a fairly successful repentance evangelist before he got the "anointing". He still continues to operate in the gift the Lord gave him in this regard, so there are occasions where people are still coming forward at Brownsville to repent of sin and accept Jesus as Savior. The problem is that the emphasis has been changed from salvation by Jesus Christ when the Holy Spirit indwells the believer as soon as he believes (not needing to be transferred or conferred by human hands), to the "anointing" session that is always the highlight of every Brownsville type service.
"The evangelist (Steve Hill)3 came to the pulpit and read two verses of Scripture (Rev. 12:10-11). He spoke for approximately forty five minutes. Every ten minutes or so he would say, "Don't leave me now ... just hang in there ... we'll get to the good stuff soon" ("good stuff" meaning prayer time, when everyone would come up front to receive the "power" and be "slain in the spirit".) Isn't that pathetic? What could be more important than the word of God? Jesus said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4)" (Revival ... or Satanic Counterfeit?, Jimmy Robbins, 1996)
This same emphasis on experience rather than Scripture has been observed by many witnesses in the Brownsville phenomenon meetings in Micronesia.
"In an article in Charisma magazine, "pro-Pensacola" writer Lee Grady described one famous scene from the Brownsville revival which has been videoed and sent out everywhere. This event occurred on August 18, 1995, when 19 year-old Alison Ward got up to give her testimony. Mr. Grady says: "As she spoke, Alison shook in a manner so awkward that a casual observer might think she suffered from cerebral palsy. Then, while trembling violently, she issued a plea so heartfelt that those in the room say they heard God speaking through her. Chocking back tears she said intently: `God is in a hurry. There's not much more time. He aches and He grieves for your spirit.' 4 At that moment Alison fell to the floor. A deafening chorus of moaning and wailing filled the room as people were moved by an almost eerie sense of God's love for lost souls ... Alison's eight-minute testimony, which was captured on videotape, represents the defining moment of this revival."
We are told in Scripture to repent and seek Christ, not "signs and wonders".
Mt 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.
The sign of Jonah is also the message of Jonah. It was a message for the city of Nineveh that it would surely be destroyed because of its wickedness.6
Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
The message of Jonah is that we need to repent of sin or be destroyed. It is an integral part of the gospel message, only that in our day if we repent of our sins and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9a), God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9) and by His grace He covers our sins by the blood of Jesus (Eph 1:7) and saves us (Rom 10:9b), at which time the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives, without the aid of human hands (1 John 5:7-12, Rom. 8:9-11, Acts 2:38, Eph. 1:13, 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Man has a God-created void that can only be filled by being born again and by an ongoing personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ.
"There is something very wrong and very evil about seeking anything other than Christ our Lord. We shouldn't seek an experience, manifestation, or any type of phenomenon. Simon the "sorcerer" was rebuked by Peter for his evil desire for "the power" to do what Peter and the other apostles were doing. (Acts 8:18-21) The great preacher, Dr. A.B. Simpson said, "You don't need healing; you need the `healer.' You don't need deliverance; you need the `deliverer.' You don't need salvation; you need the `Savior.'" (Revival ... or Satanic Counterfeit?, Jimmy Robbins, 1996)
(3) The "signs and wonders" that are being done by this group are not to be found in Scripture, except in cases of demonic possession and as a result of God's judgment.
The "signs and wonders" or "manifestations" of this movement have been listed by Pastor John Kilpatrick of Brownsville AOG.
"Falling on the floor (mostly backwards)3 for deep inner healing, preparation for ministry, physical healing, receiving of visions, feeling the love of God. Laughter. Shaking of head, hands, feet and body. Deep bowing.
In their meetings, here in Micronesia, identical "manifestations" have been observed, by multiple witnesses, as well as the following: howling, wailing, hysterical laughter, violent shaking, falling backwards to the floor and laying in a trance-like state for a time, palsy-like jerking, and bending down in apparent deep pain. It has also been observed by many witnesses that the leaders who transfer this "anointing" usually have a weird look of glee and clenched teeth on their faces after someone they have laid hands on has fallen backwards to the floor. Some also, strangely, make similar hissing and whooshing sounds when conferring this "anointing" on someone. They also, often, shout at the Holy Spirit, shouting "More! More! More!", as if the Holy Spirit were a vending machine where you just put in your quarter and out pops the product in greater and greater amounts as you put "more, more, more" quarters in.7
None of the above phenomena associated with this group can be substantiated by Scripture. Verses or even phrases are routinely pulled from their context and quoted as justifications for what would normally be considered manifestations of demonic possession. Here are some examples of this group's attempts at backtracking and finding Scriptural justification for these manifestations:
Slaying in the "Spirit" - e-mail has been received from this group where they use the accounts of Saul and the prophets, where he fell down and prophesied and of the account of Jesus when He said "I AM" to the people who came to arrest him and they fell backwards. These two accounts were decidedly not "anointings" but a judgment from God. It should make thinking Christians wonder if this phenomenon is really an "anointing".
Howling, screaming, crying or otherwise acting like an animal - "Some pull verses out of context that speak of God roaring like a lion. There are two problems with using verses of this nature: First of all, the Scriptures never say that God will make His own people roar like lions and act like animals; second, in those passages that view God as roaring like a lion, it is always in preparation for judgment, and not blessing. The roaring is against unbelievers. It is never said that He causes believers to roar like lions or bark like dogs. Another passage I have seen defenders use to try to justify the animal actions if Daniel 4, where God made Nebuchadnezzar act like an ox. Here, again, this was not a blessing for Nebuchadnezzar, but a judgment on an unbeliever who saw himself as a god." (The Toronto Phenomenon, Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, 1997)
If the Brownsville people are pulling out these types of justifications from Scripture, perhaps this really is a judgment from God on His church for not remaining in "sound doctrine". These are just a few examples of the horrendous Biblical exegeses in answers from this group. Similarly bad examples of lame justifications pulled out of Scripture can be found in the false doctrines of the Kenneth Copeland "Faith Movement" group that uses Isa 40:12 "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?" to prove that God's hand span is the same as a human handspan, therefore God must have a body like us. (This is available on cassette tape in his own voice - refer to 1 for more information on this connection to the Brownsville phenomenon). Scripture is not to be used to prove something we have decided to believe before checking it out with the Scriptures. Scripture is to be understood on the basis of the purpose for which is was written, to whom it was written and the context in which it was written. It is only then that Scripture can be properly understood, with the aide of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
"One of the curious phenomena of recent times is how Christians have been using the Bible. Rather then recognize that it is a book made up of 66 books, which was written to a specific people for a specific reason, we tend to wrench verses right out of their contexts because the words agree with what we already believe ... What's wrong with that? Two things: First, this approach to Scripture does not honor the divine authorship of Scripture. God gave the verse at least 1900 years ago. You may have discovered it today, but it's been there all along. To say that God gave you a verse today (to bolster a personal theology or church doctrine)3 is really an existential statement, as through the Bible didn't become alive until we read it a certain way. (Scriptural)3 revelation has ceased. It's all there in the Book. This manner of speaking almost sounds as if (Scriptural)3 revelation continues. But the work of the Spirit today is decidedly not on a cognitive level: he is not bringing the message as new (Scriptural)3 revelation. His work in relation to the Bible is primarily in the realm of conviction: he helps to drive home the message of the Bible, once it is properly understood. Second, this approach to Scripture does not honor the human authorship of the Bible. When Paul wrote to the Galations, he wrote a coherent, holistic message. He never intended for someone a couple millennia later to rip verses out of their context and wield them any way they choose! Certainly we have the right to quote verses of Scripture; but we do not have the right to ignore the context, or to make them say what the language cannot say. Otherwise, someone could come along and say "Judas hanged himself"; "Go and do likewise"! Hence, one reason for the abuse of Scripture is due to a lack of respect for the Bible as a divine and human work. In this approach it becomes a magical incantation book almost a book of unconnected fortune cookie sayings!" (Scripture Twisting: Read me First!, Daniel B. Wallace, 1997)5
Other Scripture twisting is done from sheer laziness in reading verses out of context and outright dishonesty in adding to or subtracting from what is actually stated in Scripture, which is our record of God's dealings with man from the beginning of time. Every major cult group today twists Scripture to suit their doctrinal desires. Every time a part of the body of Christ begins to twist Scripture, it inevitably marginalizes itself and eventually, if the malady persists, becomes a cult group. This seems to be what is happening in the Brownsville group today.
(4) People who attend the Brownsville phenomenon meetings are told to "leave your mind at the door", "empty your mind", and "stop analyzing".
Many people have heard the above phrases in these meetings in Micronesia. They are repeated frequently at Brownsville AOG and the Toronto Airport Fellowship churches.
"... one of the ministers interrupted the song service to exhort the congregation to "let themselves go" ... "do not think about what you are doing" ... "just give yourselves completely to the `spirit'". My Bible says that we are to "sing with the spirit and with the understanding also." (1 Cor. 14:15) On another occasion the visiting evangelist stopped the song service to say this: "The devil is here tonight and wants to hinder this service. Well, I've got news for him - he has to go. He (the devil) has analyzers here tonight." During the song service this young evangelist glanced at Elmer, Felton and myself on more than one occasion. I am sure we were sticking out like sore thumbs, since we were obviously not taking part in the "wild frenzy" called worship. He (the evangelist) went on to say "If you must analyze, then look at me, look at the musicians and singers, look at the congregation, look at the person to the left of you and to the right of you, and just analyze, analyze, analyze get it out of your system. Now let yourselves go: don't even think about what you are doing, forget about those around you and what they are doing. Release your mind release your spirit and let the mighty river of the "Holy Ghost" take you wherever He wants you to go." I thought to myself ... "I certainly wasn't going to open my spirit up to this "wild, anything goes atmosphere." Jesus said, "Ye worship ye know not what - But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him." (John 4:22-23) (Revival ... or Satanic Counterfeit?, Jimmy Robbins, 1996)
"Empty your mind" is a favorite mantra of many false religions and cult groups. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can abide in us and work through us with our minds and willpower totally intact. It takes an act of the will to let the barriers down in our minds and spirit, and this often gives the enemy an opening, through sin in our lives, to come in and do his work either through oppression or outright possession. We must never empty our minds as Christians, for it is with our minds that we can test the spirits.
The Scriptures say:
Ro 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will.
When we are born again, God gives us a new mind. This mind is to be used to find out what God's will is.
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
One thing that God wants us to do with our mind is to love Him with it. We cannot love God by disengaging our minds that He created. We must love Him at all times with our whole being.
Isa 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
God is not a God of disorder and chaos. He keeps our minds peaceful as we keep our minds steadfastly on Him. We are also to fill our minds with Scripture and the word of Christ.
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
(5) Tongues were spoken in the assembly of mainly Christians in the main meetings, and in the assembly of only Christians in the pre-meeting "intercession" time constantly and with absolutely no interpretation.
This was observed by many witnesses on many occasions in the meetings of this group.
The Scripture is crystal clear on this:
1 Cor. 14:26-28
"What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, twoor at the most three should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God."
There were many, many people speaking in tongues loudly in the Brownsville phenomenon meetings. There was never any interpretation that any witnesses heard.
(6) The Brownsville group continues to preach and proclaim, concerning the phenomena it is experiencing, that "God is painting a new picture" and that it is a "new revelation".
This was stated and preached in front of multiple witnesses.
Heb 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
God does not change His revealed way of doing things, His "modus operandi" continues to be the same and is consistent throughout Scripture. The Bible is the picture that God has painted for us. If the types of manifestations that are being attributed to God in this movement are a new picture He is painting for His church, then the picture is one of chaos, wild "whirling dervish" experiential highs, ugly manifestations like demonic-type howling and grotesque body twisting and shaking, little or no deep Scriptural teaching, and the preaching of a gospel that is overshadowed by signs and wonders.
(7) "This anointing is transferable".
This was stated a number of times in the Brownsville phenomenon meetings. Their support for this in Scripture is very weak. They use laying on of hands references in the Bible, in different places, to claim that is how the Holy Spirit is transmitted from person to person - or - that is how He is activated or set afire.
"Wouldn't it be great if there was somewhere you could go and just get really filled up with power and love, the love of God? But it doesn't stop there. What happens is, there's a transference of His anointing where, not only do you see it, not only do you experience it for yourself, but you're going to take it home to your people." (John Arnott, Pastor of the Toronto Airport Fellowship, pastor's Meeting, October 19, 1994)
If this statement doesn't typify "fast food Christianity" teaching, I don't know what does. These types of statements continue to be made over and over again at the Brownsville group meetings in Micronesia. When someone accepts Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit indwells that believer.
Eph. 1:13 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit."
1 Cor. 12:13 "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."
No human being with hands can control, transfer or activate the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves and does the work of the Father, always pointing to Jesus Christ, in complete and utter sovereignty (Acts 10:44-46). How dare people assume they can control and manipulate the Holy Spirit of God!
Some Words from Scripture to Consider
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought thembringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, revelling in their pleasures while they feast with you." 2 Peter 2:1-13
"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, `There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, `Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it." Matt. 24:23-27
I cannot tell you how sad it makes me to be forced to write this paper. One of the reasons is that these deviations from Scripture are being lived out by a number of my closest friends who have bought into this Brownsville phenomenon. The saddest part is that some of us were in ministry together before this all happened. I now believe that this Brownsville "Outpouring" is just another ploy of the enemy to spread a false gospel in Micronesia. This group is bound to cause divisions in the body of Christ if they do not return to living and preaching sound doctrine. This is not a Charismatic versus non-Charismatic issue. There are as many testimonials from both sides as to the dangers of this movement. But testimonials are subjective on both sides of the fence.
The proof is in the fruit. We don't need more subjective testimonials. We can see those everyday from every corner of the religious and non-religious world, on T.V. and on "psychic networks" everywhere. The fruit has little to do with what people say but much more to do with what they do over the course of time. Instant sanctification and blissing out in Christian meetings does not get the real work done of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. Nor does it promote a deeper understanding of God's word and the precepts and life lessons contained therein. My advice to my friends is this: Move on from milk to meat! What happened to the preaching of the complete gospel of Jesus Christ? What happened to the reason why angels rejoice, the greatest miracle of all, the miracle of a sinner accepting Christ and being born again in all this?
Lu 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
If angels don't rejoice over signs and wonders, perhaps we shouldn't either.
I pray for my friends daily. I am not their eternal judge. God is. But we are called to judge whether a person is teaching sound doctrine and whether or not they practice it. We all will stand before God on the day of judgment and have to answer for our lives. For the sake of my friends I do not want them to hear the following on the day of judgment:
Jesus said in Matt 7:22-24 "Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."
I just hope this paper will help others sort out this confusion that has been brought to our shores and encourage them to build their houses upon the solid Rock, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sandy Simpson, 1997
1There is a direct genealogy via the "laying on of hands" to the people who are bringing this phenomenon to Micronesia. The leaders of the movement in Micronesia have traveled to the Brownsville AOG church and had the evangelist, Steve Hill, as well as Rev. John Kilpatrick lay hands directly on them. Here is how the "laying on of hands" chain looks: John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, Canada laid hands on Sandy Millar of Holy Trinity Brompton, England who laid hands on Steve Hill, Brownsville AOG, Pensacola, FL who laid hands on John Kilpatrick as well as the leaders of the movement in Micronesia. John Arnott also laid hands on John Kilpatrick's wife in Toronto prior to the Brownsville "Revival" outbreak, as evidenced in this recent letter about a visit to Brownsville AOG by John Arnott from a woman in the Brownsville AOG choir:
"We so appreciate Bro. Arnott for being open to God because thats where Mrs. Kilpatrick went..to his church in Toronto and the impartation (anointing) did truly follow her home to us! I sincerely hope and pray that John Arnott was refreshed at Brownsville and was able to feel Gods presence. I would love to go to Toronto..and will one day, with YOU I hope! Love Cathy" (Letter Written Feb.22,1996)
If we continue to trace this genealogy backwards in time we find some interesting facts. John Arnott's mentors were Benny Hinn (the "Anointing") and Kathryn Kuhlman (Going under the "Power").
"So we invited everybody and anybody. I mean, we had them all here. I didn't care what their background was. If I heard that they were Christians and they were anointed by the Spirit, we wanted them to come. Maybe we could learn something from them. We had several people here. Understand that I was impacted by Kathryn Kuhlman, I had recently been impacted by Benny Hinn, and certainly by John Wimber. (John Arnott, Pastor of the Toronto Airport Fellowship, Pastor's Meeting, October 19, 1994)
As far as we can document, John Arnott was laid hands on by Randy Clark, who was laid hands on by Rodney Howard Browne, whose direct mentor was Kenneth Hagin (Kenneth Hagin (Faith Movement Rhema Bible Centers) and William Branham ("Laying on of Hands" & Later Rain Restorationism) who was also involved with Benny Hinn. The roots of these movements on the Benny Hinn side go back into Mesmerism, Shamanism and Mystical Eastern Religion. The roots of the Kenneth Copeland thread run back through Essek Kenyon, Christian Science, New Thought Movement, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. (Appendix C - Genealogy of the Toronto Blessing, Alan Moriso, UK 1994)
2 In order to facilitate this paper reaching the churches of Micronesia in a timely fashion, not all of the statements and actions of the Brownsville movement can be dealt with at this time. Following is a list of a number of other things that were said and done in their meetings, not in any particular order, that are either obviously contrary to Scripture or are, at the very least, unseemly practices for Christians to be engaged in:
(1) A defining feature of this movement is the heavy use of testimonies. These testimonies are being told to everyone they meet by the adherents of this phenomenon and are being sent to people in the mail and over the Internet. These testimonies are being used to "prove" that this is a real revival and work of God in people's lives. As we all know, testimonies can be a real blessing and a way to personalize our Christian witness. But keep in mind that personal experience testimonies about feelings, inner healings, perceived life changes, and such are subjective in nature (often not independently verifiable). They are, for the most part, based on a person's opinion of something that happened to them or how they feel or felt. A good way to prove testimonials is to watch the fruit of a person's life over a period of time. Do not simply rely on what the person says at the time, but what he does in his life what his actions are. It is easy to testify to something with our lips, but it is another thing to live that testimony. Another "proof" that this movement uses to justify what it is doing is that they point to the fact that a certain person is now a zealous witness in the community. You should always ask yourself the question "A witness to what?" After all, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishnas are also zealous witnesses. If they are preaching the complete gospel and people are being saved, that is good fruit and you can trust their witness. If, on the other hand, they are telling people that they have received a special "anointing" via a certain person and it changed their life and that people should attend their meetings so that they can get the "anointing" too, then that is not the gospel message and therefore is not good fruit. Here are some practical guidelines to use and fruit to watch for to verify if a witness is truthful and if his testimony shows that he is walking with Christ: (a) Do they exhibit the fruits of the Spirit? (Gal. 5:22-23) (b) Do they remain under the authority of the local church and its leaders? (Heb. 13:17) (c) Do they obey the laws of the nation and are they subservient and pray for the government leaders? (1 Pet. 2:13, Rom 13:1, 1 Tim. 1:1-2) (d) Do they seek unity within the body of Christ? (Rom. 15:5, Eph. 4:3) (e) Are they peacemakers or do they intentionally cause problems behind the scenes between Christian people who are clearly walking with Christ? (Matt.5:9, James 3:18) (f) Do they preach the whole gospel of Jesus Christ or do they put a larger emphasis on signs and wonders? (Rom. 1:16-17, 1 Cor. 9:16, 1 Co. 15:2, Gal. 1:8) (g) Do they promote themselves and justify themselves by virtue of signs and wonders and subjective testimonials instead of by Scripture? (Luke 15:10, Jn. 12:37, 1 Cor. 1:21-24) (h) Are they proselytizing church members of your church, telling them to come to their church because it is more spiritual? (Gal. 6:2-5) These are some fruits to watch for.
(2) Those who came for "intercession" before the meetings were told that Brownsville AOG had found new, improved ways to intercede. They were told to only praise and worship the Lord, to walk around the building liberally using their hands through the air, to not petition the Lord for anything during "intercession", and to use their prayer languages exclusively. When this "intercession" started, those who had already received the Brownsville experience, began to walk about the room, some speaking loudly in tongues or repeating the name of Jesus over and over again. Some went to the doors, the doorknobs, the chairs and every article in the room and drew crosses on each of these items with their fingers. Some walked madly about waving their arms and obviously getting worked up into a frenzy. This is what got them properly prepared for the service later. 1Ti 2:1 says: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -" Would it have hurt to pray that the Lord would send non-believers to the meetings? Intercession by definition means: "The act or an instance of interceding. A prayer to God on behalf of another or others." (Random House College Dictionary) To be an intercessor is to be a go-between on behalf of someone else. If one is not allowed to make petitions for someone else, they have been effectively halted from interceding. I am thankful that Jesus intercedes for us with the Father. Otherwise we would be in a disastrous state. What happened to the priesthood of the believers in all this "intercession"?
(3) In the video of the first day of the "revival" at Brownsville, Steve Hill spent an inordinate amount of time prepping the audience to receive the "anointing" he had received. It reminded some of what hypnotists do with auto-suggestion, and what cult groups do to try to control the minds of their audiences or brainwash them.
(4) Pastors, missionaries and Christian workers were given badges to wear to clearly identify them. This was for the stated purpose (to the pastors, etc.) that they could act as counselors when people came forward. They were instructed not to prophesy, speak words of knowledge, or speak in tongues. The interesting point is that the Brownsville people with the "impartation" then proceeded, during the course of the meetings, to do what they had instructed others not to do. They also confided in some that their real purpose for the badges was to identify the leaders so that the Brownsville people could pray over them so that they would receive the "anointing" also.
(5) The real fruit, not just the justifications and experiential testimony, coming from this group is an indicator of whether the Holy Spirit is in operation. Some who have been initiated into this group have already caused disunity among the body of Christ. There have already been a number of cases of this and there are multiple witnesses to this fact. This is most evident when the personality of the person was well known before they got the "impartation" and afterward when they changed their behavior and began to cause disunity among Christians. The leaders begin to dictate to their followers in areas of personal choice using "words of knowledge" to back them up and not Scripture. They also no longer listen to counsel from their elders in Christ, but will preach at them nonetheless. This is a typical pattern that has been observed before in ultra-Charismatic groups and cult groups and is happening in Micronesia too.
(6) The people that visited from the Brownsville AOG church stated to myself and others many times "We have started something new here. We brought you the "anointing". You must carry on the torch now." and other similar statements. It struck me as blatant egotism to think that they were the ones who started a real work of God here in Micronesia, or even that they were the conveyers of the Holy Spirit and now we had the power to pass it on when before we didn't. God's work does not need human hands all over it. If you doubt that, look up the story of Uzzah. (2 Sam. 6) Too many human fingerprints can obscure a real work of God and His character. I have seen too many works of God in these islands signs and wonders following Christians many, many years before Brownsville arrived on the scene, to be taken in by these types of prideful statements.
(7) There are few if any real Scriptural miracles at these meetings. The blind do not see, the deaf do not hear, limbs do not grow back. It's all the same routine "inner" health problems that people claim to be healed of. If there are any real Godly miracles, you can be sure that Jesus Christ worked the miracle for the benefit of the individual. But the Holy Spirit is the "Spirit of Truth" and does not condone or legitimize doctrinal error and false teaching.
(8) Emptying your mind and not analysing to prepare you to "receive the Holy Spirit" is a pet doctrine of this movement. Information from many experiences of counseling and deliverance of people who were involved in drugs, alcohol and the occult should have taught us all by now that when you empty yourself, something may fill that void. It may simply be the drugs, alcohol or some empty experience, but it also leaves the door open for demonic spirits to enter. A number of people I have talked to were very dubious of what was being labeled as the Holy Spirit in their meetings, when it fact it may also have been demonic in nature. There have been some documented cases of very questionable occurances associated with the laying on of hands of this group and its predecessors. These situations have been and are being looked into and people are being prayed for who are now searching for deliverance.
(9) One drama was played out by a young Brownsville "slayee", who had apparently received a mega dose of the Brownsville phenomenon, in front of a group of non-Brownsville "slayee" observers. He was using his new-found ability to send his friend to the floor over and over again. The friend would just start to get up and he would be "zapped" again and sent to the carpet. As they were laughing about it, we became less and less humored. It seemed to us that (a) if this was the Holy Spirit then it was a very flippant use of His power for ministry and (b) if it wasn't, it was downright ludicrous and possibly dangerous.
3 Sections in parentheses and in non-italics in italicized paragraphs are my additions to the original text. Also underlining is my emphasis.
4 If this statement was the "defining moment" for the Brownsville AOG "revival" then something is clearly amiss. It is very doubtful that this was a "word of knowledge" or "prophesy" from God. The young lady at Brownsville said "God is in a hurry". God never hurries. God operates outside of time and space. (Ps. 90:4, 2 Pet. 3:8) There is one being who is in a hurry right now, however. Satan knows he doesn't have much time left. There may, indeed, be "not much more time left" for us before Jesus returns. However, we do not know the day or the hour of Christ's return. Only the Father knows the answer to that question. (Mark 13:32) Remarks like that should always be prefaced by "I believe there to be" or "The indications are that there is", not said as a statement of fact, because God the Father is not going to reveal the time of Christ's return to anyone, and certainly not to a teenager at Brownsville AOG. The one statement she made that is true in one respect was "He aches and grieves for your spirit". Although not stated in Scripture in specifically those words, we can be confident that God is not willing that any should perish and is patient and longsuffering with his creatures (2 Pet. 3:9) and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans to the Father (Rom. 8:26) as well as other references to the love of God for His creatures.
5I happen to agree with Jack Deere in his new book "Surprised by the Voice of God" that there is still personal revelation and even revelation for the church via prophesy today -- not on the order of Scripture, but God is still speaking to people and His church today. However, all post-Scriptural revelation must square with Scripture or it is not to be accepted. Otherwise, we are left with only subjective statements and existentialistic proclamations. Get rid of the absolute authority of Scripture, and you are left with people who claim to speak for God like Joseph Smith, Mohammed, Jim Jones and the Bahgwan Sri Rajneesh (now dead, thank the Lord!). I do not agree with him, however, that modern-day prophets need not be accurate in their prophesies. The Bible is clear on this: De 18:20-22 "But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." This precept is not countermanded in the New Testament. I believe that this is for our own protection. I have seen, especially of late, "words of knowledge" and "prophetic" messages to the church getting way out of hand. Some Christians mistake human intuition, whether actually correct or incorrect, for the "still small voice" of the Spirit. Sometimes people are "proclaiming", "declaring" and "speaking things into being" so loudly it becomes almost impossible for them to hear that voice anymore.
6 The context shows that the account of Jonah being in the belly of the fish for three days and nights also is a sign of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mt. 12:39-40). The message of "repent or be destroyed" is, in our generation, enjoined with the fact that Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins, died and rose again to conquer death and bring us eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ alone by faith alone. Jesus is now our salvation. Praise Him!
7 Credit for that illustration goes to my mother, Juanita Simpson, which she gave during a workshop on spiritual warfare. The workshop is available on video tape.
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Copywrite 1997, Sandy Simpson
Copies and distribution of this document are the responsibility of the local church to which it was sent.
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