Kansas City Prophets
Excerpted from "Heaven
Can't Wait" by William M. Alnor, 1996
If (Hank) Hanegraaff and other critics are correct, perhaps it was the
Vineyard's flirting with the inner healing movement that led them to this
point. Perhaps it was the Kansas City prophets it absorbed in the
late 1980s that took them this far. Or more likely it was a combination
of many things, along with (John) Wimber's experience-oriented theology,
that brought them to where they are today.
One thing is for sure: Each phase they went through prepared them to receive
more supernatural experiences. First, inner healing teacher John
Sandford (who has claimed a number of visionary and mystical experiences)
began bringing his seminars to a number of Vineyard churches worldwide.
You might remember Sandford from chapter 1 where he claimed he wrestled
with a demon and a dead woman. Later it was a group of men known
as the Kansas City prophets who brought grandiose claims that a "new breed"
of super prophets were beginning to arrive on planet earth who would change
the world forever.
These so-called prophets were a group of men that coalesced around a church
known as the Kansas City Fellowship, pastored by Mike Bickle, that attracted
a following of other likeminded churches in that region. They argued
that God was spearheading a new revival from their churches, and that he
was restoring the office of prophet. Just as other "prophets" we discussed
in these pages, yesterday's Kansas City stock could have it both ways.
They could hear from God, and speak forth God's words, prophesying of great
events soon to transpire on planet earth. And they could have flipped
a coin as to whether what God allegedly told them would actually come true.
they didn't come true.
Some of the main prophets and/or leaders in the movement included Paul
Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jackson, Francis Frangipane,
and others. Bob Jones (no relation to Bob Jones of Bob Jones University
in South Carolina) was the visionary of the bunch. He was said to
have been especially anointed with supernatural visions from the Lord and
a prophetic gift. However, he was quoted as saying that the general
level of prophetic revelation in the movement's "prophets" had an accuracy
level of about 65 percent. Some prophets were as low as 10 percent
accurate, he said, with some of the "most mature" prophets having a rating
"approaching 85 percent to 95 percent. "25
Similarly, the lack of accuracy
in speaking for God didn't bother Wimber, either. Wimber soon became
close to Cain and Bickle, and when the Kansas City Fellowship came under
fire, Wimber saved them from even more criticism by absorbing the Kansas
City Fellowship under the new name of the Metro Vineyard Fellowship.
"Prophecy's first expressions will likely be infantile," wrote Wimber in
the Vineyard's fall 1989 Equipping the Saints magazine that was
devoted to embracing the prophetic movement. "Babies are messy and
they make messes ."26
Heaven: Kansas City Style
Aside from strange prophecies and visions, the Kansas City prophets reported
visits to the supernatural realms, including heaven. In a series
of five hour-long tapes entitled
Visions and Revelations, Mike Bickle
and Bob Jones are heard wowing followers of the Kansas City Fellowship
with all sorts of tales of their unverified experiences in the next plane.
Bob Jones claims that when he was nine years old living in Arkansas, an
angel carrying a "great trumpet" came riding down from the sky on a white
horse and stopped before him in the middle of a dirt road. He didn't
know what to make of it until he was thirteen, when he was escorted to
the very throne room of God in heaven.
You say that you saw the throne room?" Bickle asked him in the dialogue.
". . . what did it look like?"
"It looked like gold and it looked like light and it was a light
not like the light you see here which is artificial," he responded, adding
that the light, the glory of the Lord, frightened him. Well, a "guide,"
which he identified as "the angel of the Lord ' " protected him from danger
by standing between him and the throne by filtering the rays from God as
if the angel was "like red sunglasses."" He said he later understood that
this was God's way of calling and commissioning him for their new important
earth-changing work that could go out from America's Midwest.
Many years later, in August 1975, Bob Jones claims he had a near-death
experience that was caused by a severe, painful nosebleed. He was
whisked into heaven. Jones said: "... all of a sudden, the
pain was gone. And I was in a dark place and I looked around and
I could see that I was in a cave and I looked down there and then
my thoughts were, "Oh, Lord, did I get my robe clean? Did I
have enough time?" And there was a man that walked beside me and he said,
"You can look now, Bob, and see" and I looked down and my robe was
like crystal light." 28
He then saw Jesus in the form of a light who would grab and kiss" men and
women of different ages and then make them disappear by absorbing them
into his body! "It was like two big ole doors right here in his heart
and it'd be just that, and they was gone," Jones said. "They was in his
heart He then saw people that Jesus didn't want who were on "an elevator
and an escalator" to hell which was like "a cold storage place." Jesus
then commissioned him to touch the leaders in a new last days church so
that he could absorb "a billion souls unto myself in the last day," Jones
short time later God "came and took me out of the body," and he descended
into hell. It was "one of the most dreary, dreadful places I've ever
been," Jones said. "It was like a place like a void, it had no top,
bottom or nothing you could see-it was like black auto smoke and we went
deeper and deeper into the depths." 30
Mike Bickle's Visions
In the same tape series, Bickle and Jones relate the story of an angel
revealing that God would appear to Bickle in the form of another person
named "Don" in a vision or in a dream. Bickle said the vision eventually
took place, and part of its message was to show him that "Jesus appears
in thousands of different faces to portray something," Bickle said.
"He was trying to say, 'I'm your friend, I am your familiar friend and
I'm going to show you all things so you can move in the power of the Spirit'".
Later Bickle relates that during his trip to heaven Jesus commissioned
him to be one of God's new generals to lead his end time army. Although
Bickle claims he met with "the Lord" face-to-face, it was an out-of-body
experience. It was 2:16 A.M. he said, and in a flash he was there,
but it wasn't the cave where Jones earlier related he had been. Instead
he was standing in a 20-by 30-foot room that "had clouds on the bottom,
on the top and the walls". It was the courtroom of God. God
was in the room, Bickle said, but rather than appearing as a being of light,
he was a presence that Bickle wouldn't look at.
God rebuked him for not being patient enough in choosing leaders for his
movement. Later the being ordered Bickle to ride in a golden chariot-one
of about thirty-five-in a procession of leaders, apostles, and prophets,
who would be joining the movement that would someday be worldwide.
Bickle said that during the trip God did not commission him as an apostle.
But he said he understood the experience to mean that if he was faithful
he would "have an opportunity in the grace of God to fill an apostolic
What Are We to Make of
Fortunately, the Kansas City prophets movement did not pass the test of
time. Far from remaining a center-piece of Wimber's movement as was
trumpeted in Vineyard publications not so long ago, this "new breed" of
men that was going to help lead them have, by and large, fallen out of
favor. Cain, who is no longer integrally associated with the Vineyards,
has been soundly criticized for some of his pronouncements; even CharismaMagazine
associate editor J. Lee Grady pointed out a few of his false prophecies
in his book, "What Happened to the Fire?" More recently Cain
unleashed a storm of controversy from within the Christian community when
he released a supposed word from the Lord that President Bill Clinton,
who has fought hard to keep abortion legal and whose first week in office
saw him lobby hard to allow homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military,
was God's man for the hour. He claimed God was going to give Clinton
the power of the Holy Spirit to lead America away from a New World order.
The fact of the matter is that Cain and other so-called Kansas City prophets
should have never been placed into an area of Christian leadership in the
first place. Cain (who has also claimed trips to heaven) has a questionable
testimony, has demonstrated a lengthy absence of Christian service in his
life, and he has called the late William Branham, with whom he once had
an association, "the greatest prophet who ever lived." Branham, however,
denied the historic doctrine of the Trinity (even claiming it comes from
the devil), and taught extensive error, including the he that the zodiac
and Egyptian pyramids are on par with the authority of Scripture. 34
Branham taught what has now become known as the "Serpent Seed" doctrine
that is popular with various neo-Nazi and "Christian" identity cults --
that the Bible's Cain was produced through a sexual coupling between the
serpent in the Garden of Eden and Eve. 35
Bickle has been linked to
the heretical Latter Pain and Manifest Sons of God doctrine that falsely
elevates man into a god class. This also should disqualify him and
his Kansas City movement from leading any Christian group in the future.
In part 2 of Bickle's undated tape The Glory and Dominion of Sonship,
moves into blasphemy by declaring:
My conviction is that one of the greatest transformations is when you begin
to get the revelation that you are a Son of God. Son
of God ... God has conceived in His heart of a plan to make a race of men
that would live like gods on the Earth. He has conceived in His heart
to have Sons that would live like His Son, the Lord Jesus lived
... That we were to be on earth the extension and manifestation of God's
life in heaven. 36
Although some voices have come forward objecting to critics' labeling some
of the Kansas City prophets movement as promoting cultic doctrines, they
don't have a case. Personal Freedom Outreach's Steve Cannon writes
that "Bickle clearly uses unscriptural terminology and logic to teach Manifest
Sons doctrine." 37 Despite this, Bickle is still popular in charismatic
circles thanks to appearances on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and other
charismatic media outlets.
Bob Jones, however, who not so long ago was regarded as the most powerful
of the Kansas City crowd is out of ministry. First when Wimber's
Vineyard absorbed the Kansas City Fellowship, Jones and another "prophet"
were disciplined for making some outlandish statements and prophecies that
were judged to have harmed some, and their prophecy tapes were removed
from distribution. Jones's ministry was then limited to church leadership
"behind closed doors." 31
But it was behind those doors where Jones's ministry ended. Two women
came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his
prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. 39 Jones admitted
it and was removed from ministry. "In recent months, I have manipulated
certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting,"
Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro
Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991. "I have
been guilty of sexual misconduct, and I deeply regret this. (I have not
committed adultery.) " 40
Many of Jones's and other Kansas City prophets' outlandish teachings and
occultic-like practices and prophecies were documented in a dizzying
233-page report compiled by former charismatic pastor Ernie Gruen.
Although Gruen later acknowledged that there were some minor inaccuracies
in his report, it successfully exposed specifics of what he called the
"charismatic heresy" of the Kansas City prophetic movement. Dates,
times, and specific incidents of error (that sometimes caused great damage)
and outright lies in the name of prophetic utterances were documented by
Gruen's staff, implicating Bickle, Jones, and Jackson. I believe
Gruen's work proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Kansas City prophets
were false ones. We can therefore postulate that God has not spoken
to any of these men.
God had some strict pronouncements against the false prophetic movement
of Jeremiah's day: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying
to you; they fill you with false hopes," God spoke through the prophet.
"They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD"
(23:16). A handful of verses later God calls them lying prophets,
"who steal from one another words supposedly from me" (v. 30). They
are leading people astray.
25. Steven F Cannon, "Old
Wine in Old Wineskins: A Look at Kansas City Fellowship," The Quarterly
Journal 10, no. 4 (October-December 1990): 8.
26. William M. Alnor and
Robert Lyle, "Controversial Prophetic Movement is Incorporated into the
Vineyard" Christian Research Journal (fall 1990): 5-6.
27. Mike Bickle with Bob
Jones, Visions and Revelations, transcript, series of five tapes
from the fall of 1988, 1-3.
28. Ibid., 14, 15.
29. Ibid., 15.
30. Ibid., 16.
31. Ibid., 53-60.
32. Ibid., 80-82.
33. J. Lee Grady, Mat
Happened to the Fire? (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 1994), 114-17.
34. See my book Soothsayers
of the Second Advent for further information on so-called Christian
astrology and pyramidology.
35. Dager, "Latter Day Prophets"
36. Cannon, "Old Wine in
Old Wineskins" 10.
38. Alnor and Lyle, "Controversial
Prophetic Movement," 5.
39. Roy Rivenburg, "A Question
of Faith," Los Angeles Times, 28 January 1992, sec. El, P.
40. Copy of Jones's letter
on file, as well as other documents related to the scandal.