The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism

[This is an excellent article with thought provoking observations.  It was initially posted on a blog which is now inaccessible for unknown (by me) reasons.  I have a suspicion that the author wishes to remain anonymous; however, I could not in good conscience reproduce this and put my name to it – even if I reworded it – as it is something I just would not have thought about or researched on my own.  With this in mind, I will attribute this to “anonymous.”  I’ve made some minor changes from the original, including the title, omitting one sentence which does not detract from the article (evidenced by an ellipse (…)) and updating the link contained therein.  I’ve also added the term “hyper-charismaticism” or “hyper-charismatic” in parentheses.] 

I want to begin this post by stating clearly that this is not going to be a theological discussion per se. It is primarily going to be the discussion of a sociological phenomenon that has been observed through the study of prisoners of war and those involved in cult movements. This post was prompted by the nearly universal lack of reasoning and independent thinking skills of those who continue to post on the blog in favor of the modern prophets (hyper-charismatics). This is one of the many parallels between the modern prophetic movement (hyper-charismaticism) and the world of the cults.

I am convinced that one of the primary reasons for this is the continual use of “loaded language” within the movement.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this term, please allow me to give a very brief and extremely oversimplified history. Robert Lifton did extensive study on the “reprogramming” techniques used by the Chinese on prisoners of war and other political prisoners. He identified several key elements that were nearly universal that were able to bring about “thought reform”. Later, Margaret Thaler Singer, Steven Hassan, and Ronald Enroth built on and modified Lifton’s model as they noticed many of the same techniques being used in cults and spiritually abusive groups to bring about a “group think” among their adherents.

One of these techniques is the use of “loaded language”. Loaded language involves a couple of practices. First, it involves the use of words and phrases that become a unique language to the members of the group itself. (See the International House of Prayer (IHOP) glossary of terms for an example.  This is only a partial list.)  These catch phrases or slogans are laced throughout the teaching ministry of the group.  This language is difficult for those outside the movement to comprehend. In fact, I would submit that many of the members themselves would have an extremely difficult time giving any precise definition to these catch phrases as well. But it goes further. 

Loaded language also has a thought-terminating effect on the individuals who use them…They are a type of mental boundary. They provide easy, simplistic answers to issues and questions. The main purpose they serve within the group is to stifle thoughtful inquiry. These clichés become so ingrained in the adherents’ mental processes that they are accepted without question or reservation and are advanced in knee-jerk fashion when any challenge to the group’s belief arises.

I have become convinced, primarily through the different members of the apostolic/prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement who have posted on the internet that this movement abounds with this thought-terminating, loaded language. Let me give some examples.

Immediately when someone outside the movement asks where a particular practice is found in the Scripture the loaded language kicks in.

This is part of the new wineskins that God is bringing forth in this generation.”

Or simply,

“God is doing a new thing.”  (Or some variation of the same statement.)

Press further and begin to point out that a particular belief or practice is unknown in church or Biblical history or is contrary to the character of God and you get more loaded language.

“God can’t be put in a box.”

“God is tearing down the religious spirit.”

“You are stuck in your tradition.”

Dare to challenge a particular leader or call into question their doctrine and one runs into more loaded language.

“We are not to judge.”

“Why are you coming against him?”

“Love covers but judgment uncovers.”

“If it is not of God it will fail but if it is of God you can’t stop it.”

Look at the fruit.”

“Touch not my anointed.”

“Truth is a person, not a doctrine.”

“Jesus is more important than doctrine.”

Ask them to evaluate their seemingly out of control behavior and you get….

“God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”

“God doesn’t want us living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Push too hard and the ad hominem attacks begin.

“You have a jezebel spirit.”

“You have a religious spirit.”

“Satan is the accuser of the brethren.”

I could go on longer but you get the idea. There is a definite “group think” and “group speak” within the prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement. The real issue to note however is that these phrases have VERY LITTLE REAL MEANING AND VIRTUALLY NO SUBSTANCE BEHIND THEM. Their sole function is to keep the person in the movement from taking a serious, thoughtful, reflective look at what they are involved in. It’s like mental insulation or blinders.

The real damage from loaded language, other than the fact that it keeps the user in the group, is that it stunts the adherents’ reasoning abilities. The person using the loaded language actually believes he/she has given an answer to the question raised!  However, they have really never dealt substantively with the issues.

As an interesting side note, while the group member staunchly proclaims his freedom, his thinking has actually become very rigid, i.e. “Everything our group does is automatically ok. Anyone who disagrees is a devil.”

These clichés must be challenged. It is important to try to force the members past the slogans to actually thinking for themselves again.  When this is done, the member may experience a “crisis of faith” in which he actually becomes open to looking at the Scriptures without the grid of the group.

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38 Responses to The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism

  1. cherylu says:

    Because of the ongoing conversation on the other thread, I can think of another couple of statements right off the top that I think fits in with this artiicle very well.

    If you point out that there is no Scriptural basis for the phenomenon of being “drunk in the spirit” the usual answer you get is, “But the disciples were all drunk/acting drunk on the day of Pentecost.”

    And if you say that a lot of what happens in services in the hyper charismatic church doesn’t meet the criteria Paul gave in I Corinthinas 14 that “all things should be done decently and in order,” the usual comeback that I have heard is, “Whose order–ours or God’s?”

  2. Elizabeth A says:

    This is very helpful, since I now come across this ‘loaded language’ in almost every Christian group I’ve been associated with. I actually find it alarming that these phrases trip so readily from the tongues of many believers these days. Another thing I’m coming across is a level of denial, and an inability to engage in discussion; I get the ‘All I know is that I have a very simple faith. I don’t understand complicated doctrine’ etc. They’ll say: ‘I feel/hear/know God in my own way’ etc. They seldom examine the Word.

  3. Craig says:

    Elizabeth A,

    I’m glad this article is of help. I believe I recognize your name from ETPW. Did you post on Miriam’s site? I used to post as “Lee” — my middle name — and for a time “Craig Lee.”

    You wrote: “They’ll say: ‘I feel/hear/know God in my own way’ etc. They seldom examine the Word.

    Yes, sadly it comes down to feelings/emotion. Don’t they realize that without some sort of anchor to the Word — and, of course, Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh — they can and likely WILL be led of another spirit?

  4. Sylvia says:

    Yes I agree this is a very helpful and timely post Craig. That list is painfully familiar :( ………..at least it used to be ‘painful’, but now I am honored to wear those labels as THE TRUTH has made it’s home in me.

    God has gifted you with the ability of clear articulation of His truth, but I must add that you communicate with LOVE for the reader which is apparent at all times. May God continue to inspire you and bless you bro.

  5. D says:

    I have encountered these types of responses too, and from people who are not at all connected to hyper-charismatic circles…

    It seems that any time you attempt to point out false teaching/practices to people who don’t want to hear it, they will appeal to this prepackaged list of defensives for their “heroes”…

    I’ve heard that “Satan is the accuser of the brethren” comeback many times!

    So, if you say anything is a false teaching or untrue, then you are working for Satan???

    I guess that means Jesus was really doing “Satan’s work” too, when he condemned the hypocracy of the Pharisees….

  6. Craig says:

    I was wondering if this was happening in the Emerging/Emergent camp. Especially now that this stream is converging with Warren’s Purpose Driven model and even hyper-charismatic churches.

  7. annunk says:

    I’d like to see some “come back” comments for the list you’ve got. Especially ones like, “Touch not God’s anointed” and “Look at the fruit”.

    I always chuckle when I hear different ones using those as their defense – people who are hyped up on IHOP for example.. (I always think of the “look at the fruit” saying on that one.) IHOP’s fruit is nothing short of stinking, rotting, dying fruit and yet its “anointed” leaders, such as Mike Bickle and Allen Hood, are always “building up” the interns/victims telling them how marvelously God is anointing them to go out and teach other people the “truth” they’re being taught at IHOP… what a joke.

    How about that list, Craig? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

  8. Craig says:

    Coincidentally, I have a blog post in the works regarding “Look at the fruit.” I’ve had it in my head for about 2 months — well before I decided to repost this particle article of this thread. I’m very busy right now; so, does anyone else wish to weigh in on “touch not God’s/mine anointed?”

  9. peacebringer says:

    Yes, Craig
    Language is critical for “effective deception”
    The other thing you will see is words that mean one thing to a person and are loaded and can be twisted to accept another view. There are phrases and words that sound good but when examined are faulty. And yes the emergent also usest this. See Rob Bell and Nooma video 15 I think where reference mithra and so on. Uses words that sound good, ends with “you are the gospel” which sounds good on paper until you look at what that actually means. His statements sound authoritative but are filled with error on examination.

  10. Craig says:

    Tim,

    Oh, yes the Emergent/Emerging church redefines meanings of well known terms and phrases. Much like the occult.

  11. zeemanb says:

    Hello- It was nice to find your blog and read this post along with so much about Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. “Loaded language” is something I’ve been contending with for more than a couple of months; in a web-war of sorts over 16 Brazilian resurrections (after the massive January flooding) reported by Bethel that have proven to be a hoax. Long story short, getting beyond the web of language and deception used by members of Bethel and Bill Johnson himself has been impossible….and further research has shown that not a single “resurrection” claimed by Bethel has EVER been proven authentic. Instead, language specific to the hyper-charismatic movement has been used to insulate the perpetrators/originators of the stories, and provide enough of a level of comfort among parishioners for them to just go with the flow. Direct questions are literally NEVER answered. I have yet to see one Bethel supporter engage in open discussion about any of this….I’m just glad to know someone else with far more patience and grace than I is writing about it. Thanks again, and have a great week!

  12. Craig says:

    zeemanb,

    Thanks for your comment.

    The whole Brazilian “resurrection” story was/is clouded in controversy. I’m glad you are providing yet another part of this saga.

    [I was not sure if you wished your parenthetical comment to show on the site; so, I've deleted it as a precaution. However, if you intended it to be part of this comment I will be happy to, uh, "resurrect" it. LOL :-)]

  13. zeemanb says:

    Thanks Craig- As it pertains to this post, after a couple of months of monitoring and several thousand words of ranting, the Brazil thing can pretty much be summed up as:

    1- Bill Johnson ultimately is using somewhat “mystical” and non-committal lingo to let everyone know that he had been in touch with the “very real and powerful” people who performed the resurrections in Brazil….believing his sources without any proof is good for plausible deniability, and nobody who already speaks the Bethel language was going to question his word on the subject.

    2- A handful of people at Bethel supposedly talked to the leader of the ministry team after their return from Brazil, and more spooky/consipiracy lingo was used to assure church members that no proof, witnesses or further testimony could be provided due to potential persecution/job loss of anyone directly involved in the miracles.

    So for those already in the fold, the language chosen to “prove” the miracles was more than enough to convince everyone the resurrections happened….to the point where Bill Johnson’s word was taken over actual missionaries from the impacted regions….and the hive mentality marches on.

    Anyway, weird how Bethel’s God is really big on providing proof of miracles involving bad foot arches and high blood pressure, but multiple resurrections from the dead have to remain TOP SECRET, :).

  14. Craig says:

    Your last paragraph is common in all hyper-charismaticism. Where’s the proof?, I say. Yet, none is forthcoming.

  15. W B McCarty says:

    Some time ago, Bill Johnson taught that having raised the dead is a more important validation of a teacher’s authority than correct doctrine. At the time, I challenged his teaching, based on Deut. 13:1-3 and Matt. 7:21-23. It seems to me that he and those within the Bethelite movement are now open to a more direct challenge, one based on his own criterion, and I now offer it: Bill Johnson, pony up the proof or ride your horse out of town.

  16. peacebringer says:

    Dr. Jackson’s initial review on Rob Bell indicates some of the issues of language and exemplify the defense of those who choose to defend folks they care abouts views. http://www.drandrewjackson.com/blog/2011/03/24/part-one-questioning-love-wins/#more-172

    The use of language and defending things without foundation are key. Also heard on radio someone looking into “prosperity gospel” and looking to examine the verses they use to support views and then realize they don’t have a lot of verses they pull from, just random here. It all comes down to matching what want to hear. This ultimately becomes a focus on getting our needs and desires met through things such as “healing”, “prosperity,” and “purpose.”

  17. W B McCarty says:

    Zeemanb, Can you specify the source in which Johnson referenced “powerful” people? In context, it might mean something other than what I suppose. But it seems to me to confuse power and authority and to wrongly claim that believers have inherent power whereas the biblical teaching is that believers can operate in the power of the Spirit. So I’d like to study his statement more carefully and in context.

  18. Craig says:

    peacebringer:

    I like Jackson’s question, “Does James 3:1 apply to Bell?” Some try to cut Bell some slack as the book is not a “systematic theology” or “detailed exegesis” but is rather poetic. And, Jackson’s response?:

    …Let’s get real. Bell is a graduate of Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary. “Love Wins” was not written by a junior high teacher…

    I LIKE it! Someone with guts to tell it like it is!

    And, I’m not surprised that Eugene Peterson jumps to Bell’s defence with loaded language as his The Message contains themes outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity yet more commonly found in the New Age [see here for more info]:

    Bell’s supporters have jumped in to exalt his victim status. For example, without providing any names, Eugene Peterson wrote in a Patheos blog post, “The people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything. They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not.” He goes on to say, “The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees.”

    The ol’ “Pharisee” card. Bell is a universalist and that puts him well outside orthodoxy.

  19. zeemanb says:

    To WB McCarty (sorry if I’m “reply challenged” in answering your post directly)- the following is a direct comment from Bill Johnson in its entirety. I believe it can still be found in the comments section of Bethel’s Facebook page…you may have to look through a few pages to get to it. The context of his comment is a long-awaited response after lots and lots and LOTS of constant badgering on his, Bethel’s and Healing Herald’s Facebook pages. I think that other than one Bethelite blogger who claimed in the comments on his site (url GONE) to have met the team leader, this is the last thing anyone from Bethel had to say about it-

    ” Seems pretty simple on the surface doesn’t it? wish it were so simple – there are many factors that cannot be shared here – that is just the way it is – we’ve contacted the newspaper that supposedly wrote the article – it was fake – we’ve c…ontacted the nurse helping to lead the team – they are real and powerful.

    In the future we’ll only post stories in which we have first hand information. It’s much easier to take bullets for our own experience than trying to defend the experience of another.”

  20. Pingback: “Look at the Fruit!” « CrossWise

  21. MaryM007 says:

    The church I just left (I was also a part of the admin staff) – has been getting complaints that ‘soaking’ was New Age so it has changed the name of ‘soaking prayer’ to ‘resting’…They believe that all the mysticism originally belonged to us and they are taking back what the devil stole in the Garden of Eden at the fall…

  22. beyondgrace says:

    Mary- yeah that’s a common claim. I’ve seen prophecy teams taught certain techniques (cold reading) and when confronted made the same claim. Of course, nothing in the book of Genesis backs up the claim that the devil stole mysticism at the fall. Nothing.

    Yet we find repeated admonitions for us to not employ divination. Empying your mind is also not supported.

    -Bill

  23. W B McCarty says:

    If the authentic path to God lies in looking within, why did God bother with His self-revelation via Scripture apart from the admonition, “Don’t look here. Look within yourself?” If Scripture is accepted as having authority, this sort of resolute mysticism is ruled out.

  24. Craig says:

    That’s rather ironic as New Agers believe their coming kingdom, which will be spiritual, will take them back to the Garden of Eden!

  25. Craig says:

    As to “This is part of the new wineskins that God is bringing forth in this generation.”, here’s the New Age/esoteric/occult explanation of the ‘parable of new wine’ [Matthew 9:16-18]:

    The disciples of the world (with their nicely formulated ideals and their neatly expressed idealistic concepts) are oft glamoured by the future beauty [ed: Millennium or Heaven] because they are oblivious of the present opportunity. Many of them will find out later that they have been left behind as far as registering the new truths is concerned. To this Christ referred when He said that it was not possible to put new wine into old bottles for that which is old will be destroyed by the expanding new life. — Alice A. Bailey; Discipleship in the New Age, Volume I; 1944; p 86 [emphasis in original]

    The “new truths” are also known as “present truths” or “new revelations.” The “disciples of the world,” or “old bottles,” are those of whom modern hyper-charismaticism refer to as those who stick to historic orthodox Christian doctrine which they claim is the “human wisdom” of I Corinthians 2:12-13 compared to their “wisdom by the Spirit” — new revelation. See “Christ Consciousness” section of “Christ” in the New Age for further explanation.

    Note that this portion “…that which is old will be destroyed by the expanding new life” has a resemblance to Rick Joyner’s “vision” in The Final Quest of the battle between the ‘blues and the greys.’

    Also, note that the above quote was written just before the modern Latter Rain movement which begain in 1948.

  26. Craig says:

    The following may or may not be a (or the) root for “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”:

    In the New Age / New Spirituality teachings of today is the belief in reincarnation and its corollary belief in the “Law of Cause and Effect” (Karma as it’s known in the East) which affects one’s evolution in the process of rebirth/reincarnation. The individual who learns to develop his mind (or, allow his mind to be soul-controlled) by “consciousness expansions” will move up the evolutionary ladder into progressively higher subsequent lives to the point of eventually attaining “spiritual perfection” and godhood [known as "Ascended Master" status].

    From the Alice Bailey book The Reappearance of the Christ [appearance of the antichrist] is the following as part of numbered points explaining the “Law of Rebirth”:

    Progressive unfoldment, under the Law of Rebirth, is largely conditioned by the mental principle for “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” [ed: Proverbs 23:7]

    Under the Law of Rebirth, man slowly develops mind, then mind begins to control the feeling, emotional nature, and finally reveals the soul and its nature and environment to man. [1948; pp 118-119]

    God offends the mind to reveal the heart?

  27. Peter says:

    Excellent article – I was particularly interested in the references to Lifton and thought-termination. Check out the wikipedia article about his book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_Reform_and_the_Psychology_of_Totalism

    I see a lot of striking parallels between the pentecostal movement and his “Eight Criteria for Thought Reform”.

    [As an aside, I have done some editing on Wikipedia. One of their policies is that articles have to be written from a neutral point of view, and loaded language is unacceptable. It's really helped me understand how words can be used to convey bias. In some cases it can be very suble indeed, but I'm much more sensitive to this now than I was previously]

    As far as Bill Johnson is concerned, he’s no different to every other pentecostal faith-healer that has gone before. These people are masters of manipulative language in many ways. The big miracle stories that they tell are always in a foreign land and can rarely be verified either way (the Brazil story was an exception – I wish there was many more). They also tend to be self-taught hypnotists who can trick people into believing that they’ve been healed.

  28. Craig says:

    Peter,

    I thought this article was great when I first read it years ago. I’ve been meaning to look into Lifton, et al; but, I’ve been busy reading other material. Perhaps one day…

  29. peacebringer says:

    I may need to get a copy of lifton’s work. The delineation seems right on. Of course that delineation then likely will be used “against” those who do have true faith, but it demarks how things can be skewed and fits with other things run across in my own sorting through. Those describe what many folks who encounter spiritual abuse go through, but the trouble is such things can then be used to discredit what is genuine as well. But language and words used is important and Lifton’s book seems a solid primer, I am sure will be things I take issue with though.

  30. zeemanb says:

    Feel free to include this comment wherever appropriate, only leaving it here due to the fact the Brazilian resurrection hoax was mentioned prior. It has officially been retracted from the same two people who started it (I’m including the text, but can include web addresses of people who received this email who are far more reputable than myself)….and needless to say, Bethel and Bill Johnson’s Facebook pages have been deleting any mention of this within seconds of its appearance. Absolutely no comment from that camp that I am aware of, especially considering the fact that BIll Johnson himself literally claimed to have spoken to members of the non-existent team who raised the bodies. Unless his team has scrubbed his Facebook pages, those claims have been in the comments at different times from the man himself.

    “Friends and loved ones,

    You are free to send the body of this email to anyone you’d like. In fact, we encourage you to send it to everyone who may have been previously informed about this story because we want the truth to be released. We simply ask that our email addresses remain confidential (which you can accomplish by copying everything below this paragraph and pasting into a new message). Please do NOT forward this email because our email addresses will remain in the header.

    Back in January, we released a story about a nurse friend of ours who was part of a team that traveled to Brazil on a medical missions trip and raised 16 people from the dead. At the time, we had every reason to believe the story was true because (like many of you) we are actively involved in a culture where the supernatural activities of God are a normal part of everyday life. Furthermore, we had been her pastors in San Francisco for over 10 years, had begun to interact over Facebook with other members of “the team”, and asked some of her other friends and pastors in SF for character references (which simply seemed like a wise thing to do given the nature of the story).

    In releasing the story, we had every intention of bringing glory to God while protecting the anonymity of the team (who, we were told, were fearful that their medical licenses would be jeopardized should their names be associated with such a fantastic miracle story). It all made sense to us at the time. We are still going to protect the identity of our nurse friend (however, now for very different reasons…read on).

    Late last week, we discovered some troubling information about her that casts a huge shadow of doubt over the Brazil dead raising story and everything she’s shared with us since we met her 12 years ago. This news came as a shock to us and to our friends in San Francisco who thought they knew her well. Essentially she has been lying to us about a great many things (her job, her credentials, her travels and missions work, her association with prominent world leaders, etc). She created fake Facebook profiles for all the members of “the Brazil team” and was personally managing them (fake check ins, wall posts, photoshopped pics and other pics downloaded from the internet and fake stories written about them). She had given each “person” a different role on “the team” and distinct personalities and managed them so well that they came to life for us. For months we have been interacting daily with many members of the team over email and FB (encouraging them, praying for them, giving them prophetic words), thinking all along that they were unique individuals with whom we had become very close. The deception was elaborate, and we’ve been deeply wounded by this revelation. Earlier this week, all those profiles were deactivated/disabled at the same time (presumably by her).

    We have amassed a great deal of evidence that we’ve made available to Bethel Church leaders since our nurse friend had personally met with several of them and since Bethel’s name was linked to the original story. We also released this evidence to a small group of friends from San Francisco who are in the best position to help her. We are NOT planning to release this information to the general public as it would only serve to defame our friend, and that is not our intention.

    Why has she done this? we aren’t completely sure. We think it’s in response to a painful break up she experienced last Christmas or possibly something much deeper.

    We’ve confronted her in love with the guidance of a licensed Christian psychologist and assembled a small team of her close friends in SF to support and encourage her to receive professional help. Unfortunately, at this time, she’s not admitting to any lies/deception, and she’s cut us off. We still love her very much, want to see her whole, and continue to reach out to her. Given her current condition and need for healing, we will not be releasing her name. There was so much controversy regarding the initial release of the story that revealing her name would draw attention that would undermine every effort to see her whole. We hope someday, when she’s ready, that she will choose to take responsibility for her actions and publicly apologize.

    Please accept our humblest apologies for our involvement in this story. We are so deeply sorry for the people that have been led astray or hurt. We have learned a very valuable lesson……Believe in the supernatural, trust your friends, but still do adequate due diligence (i.e. fact checking) when a story seems too good to be true.

    We believe in a great God who does amazing miracles, even if this one was a fabrication.

    Blessings,

    D&C”

  31. Craig says:

    zeemanb,

    I have seen this before, although maybe not in its entirety. Thanks for posting.

    Why has she done this? we aren’t completely sure. We think it’s in response to a painful break up she experienced last Christmas or possibly something much deeper.

    I’m convinced this is why many hyper-charismatic churches want to know all about past sins and personal info — to use it against the individual eventually to discredit them in some way. This makes it easier to pass blame.

  32. peacebringer says:

    In that posting there is one very telling comment. In these made up persona’s the people were given prophetic words to them. Guess what, God would know who he is dealing with…

  33. Peter says:

    zeemanb, thanks for sharing that. I have a theory that virtually every report you read from pentecostals is somewhere along the scale from hype to lies. They’ll say things like “500 people responded to the Gospel message” when actually they were preaching to a church of 1000 people and half of them, who were already Christians, came forward because of the speaker’s manipulative skills. In Africa, it’s easy to get huge crowds to profess faith, but very few of them will leave their false gods behind. They just want Jesus as another god in their pagan belief system. That’s not true conversion. Accounts of healings are also very creative – meetings are often highly emotionally charged, the people become full of epinephrine and endorphins and are hypnotised by the music and preaching. In those situations people will make all sorts of claims because their brains and bodies are not working normally.

    Why does this go on? Simple – money. Ministry, for many people, is a business. If you can convince people that you are “preaching the gospel with signs and wonders following”, you can get them to give you money. The more successful you appear to be, the more money you can make. And typically you are a one-man band, with no accountability, so you decide how to spend the money.

    All this is true with churches, as well. The pastor makes people believe that he is “anointed”, and uses loaded language to silence dissent. The more people who come to your church, the more money comes in. If you can spread the message that “the supernatural activities of God are a normal part of everyday life” in your church, people will flock to you. And then you look for other ways of making money. Put on conferences with famous speakers. Record music and sell CDs. Stream your meetings online and charge people to watch. Write books. Start a bible school for those who also want a “supernatural ministry”. Make TV programs and solicit donations from viewers. As things grow, put your wife and children on the staff. For most of these activities, you have a ready-made market in your church. Does any of this sound familiar? Bethel, IHOP, Brownsville, Lakeland, Toronto, and a whole host of others that haven’t become well-known. Again, many of these churches have no accountability and are frequently controlled by the pastor and an inner circle of his cronies (often family).

    In this situation, sound doctrine goes out of the window, and people just become sources of income. Everything is focussed on the business, sorry, ministry. It’s a recipe for fraud and abuse. Anyone who questions things is a threat that must be dealt with, and what better way to do that by telling dissenters that they are demonised.

    Forgive the rant, but there is a reason for the loaded language.

  34. zeemanb says:

    Funny, when I was still in the Assemblies of God, we had a saying…”evangelically speaking”. Basically, if your youth group went to a large mall parking lot and put flyers or tracts under the windshield wipers of 1000 cars, then you could tell your congregation that over one thousand people were reached for Christ. Among just the staff we’d just say, “well, evangelically speaking that is the truth”. I think churches like the Bethels and IHOP’s of the world have carved quite a media and internet-savvy niche out of “evangelically speaking”. Casting doubt on miracles is akin to hating puppies, and when a miracle is proven to be a lie then it suddenly becomes about protecting the organization from further scrutiny. Before my Facebook comment that linked to the email above was deleted, one of his followers made a comment (not these exact words, but close), “Why worry or talk about one single error when so many reports of great things and other miracles are coming in from around the world?”. People become so invested in the image of a ministry that they are completely willing to overlook blatant lies and scriptural misdirection for the sake of the soothing, fantastical nature of “evangelically speaking”.

  35. cheryl u says:

    I have wondered for some time if we really have any proof that all of the fantastic things we hear about happening “over there” somewhere have any basis in fact. It seems there are often all of these stories given and then some comment made to the effect of, “It is only here in America that this kind of stuff isn’t happening and that is because of our mindset that doesn’t allow for the supernatural”. Translated, that last phrase reads, “we in America have a religious spirit.”

    Does any one know of any for sure proven, not to be questioned, resurrections or any other such miracles happening anywhere on a scale like is often spoken about?

  36. Peter says:

    cheryl u, the simple answer to your last question is no.

    People may find this page interesting:

    http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/05/26/how-to-fake-a-healing/

  37. Craig says:

    It appears that IHOP’s website no longer has a glossary of terms. However, Truthspeaker had copied these in a similar post which (unbeknownst to me) preceded this one by a few months:

    http://truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/ihops-loaded-language/

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