The 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. Often 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 said. 29
A 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'". 31
     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 calling." 32

What Are We to Make of These Visions?

     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.

Testing Doctrines

     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, he 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" 2.
36. Cannon, "Old Wine in Old Wineskins" 10.
37. Ibid.
38. Alnor and Lyle, "Controversial Prophetic Movement," 5.
39. Roy Rivenburg, "A Question of Faith," Los Angeles Times, 28 January 1992, sec.  El, P. 8.
40. Copy of Jones's letter on file, as well as other documents related to the scandal.