2008 was a banner year for the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR – what I term hyper-charismaticism) – at least until it was revealed that Todd Bentley was having an affair with his nanny and divorcing his wife, the mother of their two children (he and the nanny married later). From April 2nd until about August 11th of that year the so-called Lakeland Revival was headed by Todd Bentley. Bentley was, shall we say, “christened” by a number of NAR “Apostles” including C. Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Che Ahn, and others on June 23rd. It’s too bad for these “Apostles” that there wasn’t an NAR “Prophet” who could have foreseen the disaster that was Bentley’s adultery/divorce and subsequent remarriage. Perhaps all the NAR “Prophets” were deep in thought, otherwise busy, traveling, sleeping, etc. at the time (cf. 1 Kings 18:27-28)? But I digress.
The purpose of this article is to revisit some Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) teaching in order to educate those not quite understanding this particular doctrine, its ramifications, and how it fits into the larger scheme of things. Following are two examples from 2008.
On May 28, in a somewhat lengthy monologue, Bentley explicitly spoke of and promoted the MSoG doctrine. Here’s a portion:
Tonight is a crossing over and we have a moment,’ says the Lord, ‘where we can labor and travail until Christ is formed in you…
…I feel if we gave it a big push that we can literally form Christ – Christ in you. I’m talking about a maturing of what God has placed on the inside of your spirit. It’s gonna come out of the birth canal – it’s gonna come out of the womb – because there is a labor and there is a travailing that is going on in the spirit…
…And, we are saying LET THERE BE LIFE. And, there was life—speaking things into existence. I am talking about a creative realm… …Under the anointing you make a declaration and it forms tonight…
…We’re going to go back into travail right now until Christ is formed. God promised a day where heaven and earth must retain Him until the restoration of all things. Heaven will hold back the coming of Jesus Christ until sons and daughters come into maturity. It’s called the Manifestation of the sons of God.
Heaven will hold back the Second Coming… A mature church manifests the glory of God. A mature church manifests the Word of God in truth and power. A mature church walks in holiness and character. A mature church walks in miracle, signs, and wonders.
I’m talking about a maturity tonight – and it’s being formed in you. Let Christ be formed in maturity. Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight…and let there be a great birthing…
The birthing, laboring, and travailing language is all part of the “birth of the man-child” doctrine, an important aspect of MSoG, as it’s the culmination of the teaching. According to this teaching, there will be ‘one new, perfect man’ (a perversion of Ephesians 4:13). This is the climax of Bentley’s monologue: “Let Christ be formed in maturity. Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight…and let there be a great birthing…” The New Age / New Spirituality calls this the forthcoming “Corporate Christ”. MSoG doctrine is such that this “birth of the man-child” IS the Second Coming. This is paralleled in New Age / New Spirituality teachings (see below).
With the proceedings of Lakeland in full swing, Bob Jones spoke at a conference held at Heritage International Ministries Retreat Center, featuring Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, and Rick Joyner, on August 08th (DVD of this event sold through Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries Media Store, item # TS50, “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08”). Here’s an excerpt of his monologue:
The New Breed is just simply the body of Christ is gonna grow up…What He’s [God’s] doing now is bringing you to a level of maturity where you grow up…So, what he’s talking about is; the New Breed is this: it’s Romans 1:4 – the spirit of holiness. So, for years I tried to get understanding of what the spirit of holiness is for it’s different than the Holy Spirit [ED: YIKES!].
So, last Saturday, He spoke to me about a New Breed of people. And, He said, ‘I don’t want to get in front of them, I want you to get behind them. They’ll be close to the ages of 25 and 40… this is who the New Breed is.’
…The New Breed will be those that are partaker of the divine nature. As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature. And, once you begin to grow up in that-a-way you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world. Jesus was one person. Now get ready for Jesuses[sic – plural of “Jesus”]all over the world. Then, he began to tell me that those who have [sic] partaker of his divine nature shall be a friend with God – John 15:15…
So, that divine nature is a friend. It’s really Paul’s prayer. I believe God is answering Paul’s prayer in Galatians 4:19 ‘I travail for you, I pray for you until Christ be formed in you.’There are Christians on the earth now that are growing in maturity to where Christ is being formed in you. If Christ is being formed in you then when you speak you’ll speak as Christ did. And, you’ll have also authority in this. Then, in this He was saying ‘this then will be a generation that will do nothing apart from the Father.’ So, I think the main thing you’re getting ready for is a generation for the fathers to come back in. And, I think the first one that’s gonna come back is Papa. For Jesus came back over…2000 years ago, The Holy Spirit came over 100 years ago [ED: apparently a reference to Azuza Street], this last revelation is who your Daddy is. And, I think this is what’s getting ready – is Papa’s getting ready to reveal his family. And, His family, what He lacks in you is what was in His Son. So, there are those who’s gonna begin to shine like the Son. And, that divine nature will have authority over all the works of the enemy…
I’ve been back here 33 years today [ED: Jones is speaking about his own purported death and resuscitation experience]. 33 years ago I stood before the Lord. I looked into His eyes. To be honest with ya, I didn’t want to come back because it had been so hard. But, He asked… He told me,” if you’ll go back you’ll see the greatest wave of all time in evangelism. I’m gonna bring over a billion youth into myself.” Now, these that’s between 25 and 40 are youth leaders. Getting ready for a birthing of youth beyond anything you’ve ever seen before…And, what he’s after now is the 25 to 40’s which are harvesters…So, get ready. Things have changed. The New Breed – let’s get behind them. For they’re gonna bring the youth behind them. It’s a change of times. The torch is being transferred from the old generation to this 25 to 40. This is the New Breed.
We won’t go into all the issues in Jones’ awful use of Scripture (that was done here). The main reason in putting both Bentley’s and Jones’ MSoG teachings on the same page is to show the reader what to look for in the teachings of others. With this in mind, re-read (or read for the first time) the two previous CrossWise articles (here and here) and look for similarities. Let’s discuss.
But, before doing so, ponder on the words of Alice A. Bailey – occultist, New Ager, the willing vehicle of the channeled writings of “Djwhal Khul”:
More explicitly, here’s Barbara Marx Hubbard in her work The Book of Co-Creation: The Revelation, Our Crisis is a Birth [Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Sonoma, CA, 1993 (first edition)] with even more alarming tie-ins to Bentley’s and Jones’ messages above (and others who’ve taught MSoG in hyper-charismaticism). In a section titled The Marriage of Christ and Eve, she begins by referencing the Virgin Birth and the fact that Christ raised Himself from the dead – at least she affirms Jesus Christ’s role in His own resurrection, contrary to Bill Johnson and others who claim it was “the Father by the Spirit” – wondering: “Are we moving beyond sexual reproduction and preprogrammed death?” [p 55].
In order for “Eve” to marry Christ, one’s body must be prepared to transform, to regenerate itself…
If we are approaching a new “normalcy,” normalizing in ourselves what Christ could do, as the next stage in our evolution, then do we have the innate ability, as a proto-universal species, to “become mothers to ourselves,” giving birth to ourselves as fully evolved humans?… [p 56. Emphasis added.]
Marx Hubbard ponders this and other questions until she receives a “revelation” about her own previous “birth experience”, which she records in a journal:
“The benign presence I sensed in my planetary birth experience was the Christ. The light that surrounded the Earth and awakened us was the Christ-light. The light that arose within us was the Christ-light that dwells in every one of us! [p 56. Bold in original]”
She then explains:
The Christ “act” – to do the work that he did – is a new kind of resurrection and transformation at the dawn of the next stage of evolution.
The marriage of Christ and Eve happens at the Second Coming. It is in real time, like his birth. It is an event in history [p 56. Emphasis added.]
Recall the words of many in hyper-charismaticism, such as this one example by Bill Johnson: Jesus is returning for a bride whose body is in equal proportion to her head [as referenced here]. Also, consider Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO, with his emphasis on the so-called “Bridal Paradigm”, in which Jesus is “love-sick for His Bride”.
Later in this same book Marx Hubbard goes through the Book of Revelation [skipping 6:3-8, though this is covered in an unpublished manuscript of this work, as quoted from here], claiming new revelation from “Higher Voices”. In the following these “Voices” ‘expound’ on Revelation 9:15-16, 18-21, bringing “new revelation”:
The alternative to Armageddon is the Planetary Pentecost. When a critical mass are in the upper room of consciousness on a planetary scale, each will hear from within, in their own language, the mighty words of God. All who are attuned will be radically empowered to be and do as Jesus did. If those people who are not self-centered align their thoughts in perfect faith, that they are whole, created in the image of God, the world can be saved. [p 147. Emphasis in original.]
Obviously, we know that God will not change His Word and save the whole world. But, note the similarities of this to various teachers within hyper-charismaticism. Note the hyper-charismatic call to unity at the expense of sound doctrine. Recall Jones’ (and others) teaching that there will be a “billion souls saved”. Are these actually a billion souls lost to the New Age / New Spirituality “Jesus”?
Reader, I implore you, please read the words of Bentley and Jones then compare to the words of Marx Hubbard and Bailey.
NOTE: The Barbara Marx Hubbard material was reprised in a later book titled The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium [Nataraj Publishing, Novato, CA, 1995], with the pagination a bit different from above.
[T]he church movement, like all else, is but a temporary expedient and serves but as a transient resting place for the evolving life. Eventually, there will appear the Church Universal, and its definite outlines will appear towards the close of this [20th] century…This Church will be nurtured into activity by the Christ [ED: actually Satan/antichrist] and His disciples when the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming, has been accomplished. No date for the advent do I set, but the time will not be long.
-Alice A. Bailey, 191939
As noted in part I, Bailey’s words were channeled through her by a demon known variously as “Djwhal Khul”, “the Tibetan”, or “Master D. K.”. Bailey was essentially a disciple of H. P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy. Formed in 1875, Theosophy itself is an amalgamation (uniting) of occult doctrines with some roots in 1st/2nd century Gnosticism. These Theosophical teachings form much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality.
As both the Bailey quote from part I and the one above illustrate, the goal was to infiltrate the Christian Church in order to transform it into part of one large universal esoteric Aquarian Age / New Age ‘church’. The Apostle Paul warned in 2nd Thessalonians 2:9 about this fake ‘second coming’ of which Bailey refers, which is an attempt at mimicking Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. Paul even applies the same Greek word (parousia) to both Jesus’ Second Coming [2nd Thes 2:1, 8] and the coming of the antichrist in his warning:
7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who restrains him will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming [parousia]. 9The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [pseudos (counterfeit)] 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.[2 Thess 2:7-12, NIV 1984]
Parousia is defined: “arrival as the first stage in presence, coming, advent”.40 By the complete context it’s clear that once the ‘lawless one’ is revealed there will be “all kinds of [false, counterfeit (pseudos)] miracles, signs and wonders”. These will be absolutely real, but they will be false in the sense that they are coming from Satan. Ultimately, the power comes from God as He allows Satan the use of this power for His own purposes (v 11).
However, note that “the secret power of lawlessness is already at work” during the time Paul wrote this epistle which is obviously well before the ‘lawless one’s’ revealing (v 8). These counterfeit/false signs and wonders will be in evidence before the arrival of the antichrist. He may not yet be ‘revealed’ but his works are already made manifest. It seems to make sense that these counterfeit signs and wonders would be increasing in both quantity and intensity in the time immediately preceding this false parousia.
Promoter of New Age / New Spirituality teachings Matthew Fox expressed the need for global mysticism in his 1988 book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ in order to bring forth this “Church Universal” of which Bailey speaks above:
Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions…The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of religions has been thwarted because world religions have not been relating at the level of mysticism. The Western tradition appears to have nothing to offer on a mystical level because its religious traditions are unaware of their mystical heritage…41
Perhaps Fox wasn’t aware of the mysticism already growing in the Western church primarily in the hyper-charismatic wing of Christianity. No doubt hyper-charismaticism has grown since the time his book was written.
At last year’s Piercing the Darkness “prophetic conference” held at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, CA, “prophet” Bob Jones told the audience they were “called to be a mystic generation”.42
…Man is six things. He’s mind, will, and emotions. He is human spirit, Holy Spirit and Wisdom of the Ages. What happens if you begin to tap into the Wisdom of the Ages? In that little bitty God sperm seed – 1st Peter 1:23 is all the Wisdom of the Ages. That genetic thing – you have authority over DNA… 43
For the record, 1st Peter 1:23 is referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” [NIV 1984]. All of mankind does not have the Holy Spirit; only true Christians will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Of course, what Jones is teaching here is not Biblical; but, what does he mean? More on this in a bit. “Wisdom of the Ages” is analogous to the ‘Ancient Wisdom’, or occult teachings,44 or “the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions” as Fox states above. Jones continues later in his ‘sermon’ with even more alarming words:
…Man was created all at oncet [sic: “once”]. Bang. And God finished it and He made man out of the clay. The DNA. What He put in here [ED: the body] was not DNA. It was His genetics that has authority over DNA. And, you’re gonna have to begin to get a-hold of this. For this conscience of yours is really your spiritual guide. God gave this to you to guide your lives. Don’t violate your conscience. In certain places it’s called your spirit. Especially in 2nd Corinthians 7:1 it’s called spirit and flesh….45
Clearly, Jones is making a distinction between the creation of the spirit / conscience / “His (God’s) genetics” which was “made all at oncet”, and the physical human body (clay) containing DNA which was made subsequent to this, indicating a two-step process. Yet, Scripture describes the creation of man a bit differently, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” [Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984]. However, Jones words work well as a ‘Christianized’ explanation of the esoteric/occult/New Age doctrine of reincarnation. To explain this doctrine, we’ll elicit help from some enthusiasts of the esoteric/occult.
In Annie Besant’s Theosophical/occult book The Ancient Wisdom from 1897 (Theosophy forms much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality teachings, as note above) she describes how the individual souls (spirits) await “the opportunity of incarnation” in human bodies:
…As the [human] race evolved, the human tabernacles improved, and myriads of souls [spirits] that were awaiting the opportunity of incarnation, that they might continue their evolution, took birth among its children….46
One time leader of the Theosophical Society Pasadena, Gottfried de Purucker, in his book Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, a “Commentary and Elucidation of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine”, explains that the spirit is immortal:
…The spirit is the immortal element in us, the deathless flame within us which dies never, which never was born, and which retains throughout…its own quality, essence, and life, sending down into our own being and into our various planes, certain of its rays or garments or souls which we are; and furthermore, that these rays, in descending, constituted the life-essences of a hierarchy, whether we treat of our own selves as individual human beings, or whether we think of the atom, or the solar system, or of the universal cosmos. 47
De Purucker may seem a bit confusing here (and his run-on sentences do not help in clarifying); but, what he’s stating is that in the doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are part of the one “god” who is within all things – a doctrine known as panentheism. These spirits are immortal, eternal. De Purucker differentiates between spirit and “soul” with the latter referring to any vehicle containing the spirit. Each entity has its own “soul”. That is, the descending spirit has its own “soul”, its vehicle, which enables it to descend and it, in turn, inhabits the soul/vehicle of the human body.48 Besant above is speaking of the soul as vehicle containing this immortal spirit which is “awaiting the opportunity of incarnation”. According to this occult doctrine, the human being can function without acknowledging this descended spirit; however, once one acknowledges the ‘god spirit’ inside, one can begin the path to “godhood”.
After explaining how the immortal spirits emanate from the transcendent “God”, and that each spirit remains fully “God”, yet the transcendent “God” is in no way diminished, de Purucker provides a helpful analogy:
A perfect analogy is found in the intrauterine development of man and his descent into incarnation. His [immortal] spiritual nature does not come down and become his actual body; it remains always his spiritual nature…[T]he physical man, the body, is in very truth the ‘temple of the living God,’ which is itself the glory thereof, hence a part of the temple; the temple, verily, is the lowest manifestation of the living God within.49
In the doctrine of reincarnation, the immortal, disembodied spirit must inhabit a new body at conception as de Purucker and Besant illustrate. Going back to the first Jones quote: his teaching about “God sperm” works well when put into the context of reincarnation in which the immortal spirits ‘take birth’ in the ‘temple of the living God’. Combining this with Jones’ second quote, he is claiming that the “God sperm seed” [immortal spirit] provides the “authority” over your DNA (your body) since this “God sperm seed” is, as he calls it, the spirit / conscience or, ‘God’s genetics’, which is placed into the “clay” (body) containing your DNA. So, once you “tap into the Wisdom of the Ages”, according to Jones, you will gain authority over your DNA. Apparently this is the basis for the “spiritual DNA” teachings which are becoming more prevalent both in the hyper-charismatic and “Emergent” streams of Christendom. More on this “spiritual DNA” in part III.
Jones continues with more esoteric teaching, this time sounding decidedly New Age:
But, you’re getting ready to wake up for the night is far spent and the dawn is at hand. And we’re getting ready for one of the greatest awakenings of all time – no revival but a’ awakening that never ends…50
One can almost hear the refrain of the 1969 hit by The 5th Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” at this point: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…” According to the New Age / New Spirituality, we are currently in the latter stages of the Age of Pisces and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is imminent.
But, Jones is far from through [the remainder will be the subject of a future post]. He even speaks of Christ coming in His people, a reference to the anti-biblical doctrine known as the “birth of the man-child” which is part of the heretical manifested sons of God (MSoG) teaching (MSoG is also an occult / New Age teaching):
…Recently, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I’m coming IN my people. Christ in you, the hope of glory. I’m comin’ IN my people.”51
This is not dissimilar to his August 08, 2008 monologue at a conference hosted by Heritage International Ministries and distributed by Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries:
As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature. And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world. Jesus was one person. Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.52
Esoteric/occult/New Age literature has long proof-texted Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” to indicate the god within which needs to be first realized then actualized. As but one example of Alice Bailey, “There is a growing and developing belief that Christ is in us, as He was in the Master Jesus…”53 Here Jones seemingly has yet another application in mind. Is he speaking of the fake parousia, the false second coming of which both the Apostle Paul and Alice Bailey spoke?
Actually, Bob Jones has been speaking these sorts of things for about 25 years now. To help further explain the preceding Jones material, here’s a more direct, concise quote from the late Earl Paulk which should help shed some light (actually dark):
…‘Christ in us’ is God’s continuing incarnation…The Church is Christ’s body, the incarnation of Christ today. The mystery which has been hidden but is now revealed to His saints is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ The mystery of this generation is Christ in us. We never understood that mystery fully. We pray to a ‘God beyond the clouds in heavenly places’ when Christ is in us. The hope of glory is not in the heavenlies – the ‘hope of the heavenlies’ is on earth! Every departed saint is gathered, waiting to see how many of us are going to receive understanding and bring Christ from the heavenlies. They are waiting for total redemption as we are.
If God’s love is going to be manifested on planet earth, who is going to demonstrate it? Christ in us, the hope of glory. God has no other place to show His love except through His body.54
Satan and his demons need our cooperation to do their bidding (“the hope of the heavenlies is on earth”). Following is the New Age / New Spirituality teaching on the false parousia as Bailey calls it, “the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming”. According to New Age / New Spirituality, when “the Christ” (antichrist, the new ‘World Teacher’) “reappears”, he will also have the ability to manifest through many people at one time:
The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations.55
Does this not seem uncomfortably close to the Jones/Paulk version above? Continuing:
For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.56
Certainly, Bill Johnson bears some responsibility for Bob Jones’ teaching since this “prophetic conference” was hosted at his Bethel Church. Presumably, he’ll likely revert back to his words here:
…As a pastor I sometimes invite speakers who come in a rough package but carry a great anointing. I do this to train my congregation to recognize the anointing and to celebrate who people are, not who they aren’t. People want to be doctrinally safe, not relationally safe. Often people expect me to publicly rebuke a previous speaker for teaching against what we believe. I will do that only if it’s actual heresy.57
One has to wonder what Johnson’s definition of heresy is. Certainly, refusing to rebuke a specific unbiblical or anti-biblical teaching by an individual who has spoken at his church amounts to tacit approval despite his statement above. However, given that the Bob Jones material cited in this section (excepting the MorningStar monologue) is sold in both audio and video format at Bethel, this connotes not just tacit but explicit endorsement. And for this, Johnson should be held responsible. With this endorsement from Bethel, one may be led to believe Jones’ teachings (at the least his words on this DVD/cd) are part of the Johnson / Bethel belief system. Are they?
Bob Jones “The Coming Kingdom” Piercing the Darkness, 2011
Bob Jones lurks in the background of much of hyper-charismaticism. He is lauded as a true ‘prophet of God’. Do his esoteric teachings form the backdrop for the movement as a whole? “Apostles” in the New Apostolic Reformation, the very ones who claim authority, do nothing to correct any of Jones’ strange teachings. Since Bill Johnson himself is a recognized ‘Apostle’ within his own sphere of influence, he certainly has the authority. Will he correct any of Jones’ teachings? Has he yet?
Bill Johnson: Deceived Deceiver or Deceiving Deceiver?
While we cannot know for certain an individual’s true heart or motives, we are to ‘know them by their fruit’ [Matthew 7:15-23], i.e. their doctrines and practices. Following is a list of things showing redefinition of key Christian terms and concepts, apparent deceit, questionable associations and endorsements, a dubious ‘healing’, and other concerns:
— It has been demonstrated that Bill Johnson has redefined repentance and, even worse, Christ and antichrist spirit, some of this in mid-paragraph. It is very difficult to view this as other than deliberate. Given that Johnson has changed Christ to “anointing” and antichrist spirit to ‘anti-anointing’, and that he’s termed our present era the “post-denominational era”,58 is it any wonder that Johnson would want the anointing of William Branham, the one who called all Protestant denominations antichrist?59
…That antichrist spirit that we’re studying, in denominationalism, and proven that denominationalism is antichrist….60
— The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the Roberts Liardon library indicate apparent deceit. Of note also: Liardon’s book God’s Generals is highly endorsed by Johnson.61 This book contains historical snapshots of a number of “past revival leaders” including Branham. While Liardon doesn’t shy away from some of the problems with Branham in the latter part of his days including that denominationalism was “the mark of the beast”,62 he attributes these doctrinal aberrations to be caused by Branham moving away from his ‘gift of healing’63 which he claims God “couldn’t take back”.64 Liardon mentions the fact that Branham could only heal if his ‘angel’ was “standing at his right side”.65 Apparently, according to Kurt Koch, in his book Occult A-B-C, Branham’s ‘angel’ would not appear when Christians were in the audience praying thus rendering Branham powerless:
There are disturbing powers here. I can do nothing.66
Since when is God constrained by “disturbing powers”?
— He clearly borrows from Word of Faith (WoF) theology. As stated in a previous article, some of his doctrines follow Kenneth E. Hagin, Sr. in the way he moves from one Biblical proof-text to the next to make his theological points. One such example is the ‘born again Jesus’ teaching in which he moves from Hebrews 1:4-5 to Acts 13:33 although Johnson stops short of Hagin’s claim that Jesus went to hell, took on Satan’s nature and was subsequently ‘born again’.
Here’s one Johnson quote illustrating the WoF ‘prosperity gospel’:
…Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross. In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin. Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less? After all, this is the better covenant!67
Moreover, it has been demonstrated that there’s a strong possibility Johnson has even adopted the same (re)definition as E.W. Kenyon for the word reality (the spiritual realm as opposed to the physical). Kenyon, from whom Hagin borrowed heavily, was the originator of Word of Faith doctrine. Kenyon very likely borrowed this redefinition from Theosophy (H. P. Blavatsky) who apparently had in mind the Dualism of 1st/2nd century Gnosticism.
— Johnson has friends who have propounded and continue to promote unorthodox and heretical doctrines including Bob Jones (as noted in the previous section), Todd Bentley and others. Conferences of which Johnson both hosts and speaks feature individuals with unbiblical and anti-biblical doctrines and some with questionable practices. He specifically backed Todd Bentley both at the Lakeland “Revival” and in its aftermath, and he even wrote a letter last year in support of him recommending him for ‘ministry’.
— There is at least one recorded dubious (or worse) healing. The following probably says it all: “What have I done? This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!”68 The Biblical witness does not once show God making an individual worse en route to divine healing. In essence, Johnson states that God subsequently ‘covered him’ for his initial mistake in this ‘healing’.69
— Johnson promotes contradicting concepts. Johnson states one thing one time then contradicts this very thing the next. One example is his definitive statement, “sin and its nature have been yanked out by its roots”.70 This, of course, is not Biblical as we never get rid of our sin nature until we receive our imperishable bodies [1 Cor 15] at the resurrection of the saints. Johnson will make statements seemingly affirming our ability to remain sinless71 (a view in common with New Age / New Spirituality) yet, at other times Johnson will make statements about our sin.72 In addition, Johnson’s followers sometimes understand his teachings in an unorthodox manner while Johnson rarely makes any attempts to correct these ‘misunderstandings’.
With all the preceding in mind, let’s look at a few statements which seem to contain orthodox statements at least in part:
Jesus was (and is) God. Eternally God. That never changed. But he chose to live with self imposed restriction while living on earth in the flesh – as a man. In doing so He defeated sin, temptation, the powers of darkness as a man. We inherit His victory – it was for us. He never sinned!” [Facebook 3/21/2011]
The first three sentences in and of themselves are entirely orthodox. Adding the fourth, some have understood Johnson to be teaching what is known as functional(ist) kenosis (see here for a full discussion on kenosis, or self-emptying), i.e. that Jesus retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to use his omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience (and possibly other traits) during His earthly ministry relying instead on the Holy Spirit. [This view violates some key Scripture in any case: Heb 1:3/Col 1:17; John 5:21, 24-25.] However, this narrow view fails to look at the rest of Johnson’s explicit statements as shown in part I and this article which prove the contrary.
Moreover, “self imposed restriction” can also be understood such that the Word voluntarily divested Himself of some or all divine attributes at the moment of the virginal conception/birth resulting in this restriction. This would indicate a stronger form of kenosis (or worse) known as ontological kenosis. In fact, this seems more likely given Johnson’s next sentence that Jesus defeated “the powers of darkness as a man”. In addition, the emphatic last sentence seems to drive home that it was His sinlessness as a man which provided “His victory”. According to orthodox Christianity, to provide effective Atonement Jesus had to be both fully God and fully man on the Cross.
In addition, it’s important to note that all modern (mid 19th century to today) kenosis theorists proclaim Jesus Christ’s eternal deity yet many effectively deny this in their theory by asserting He lacked some or all divine attributes while incarnate creating an inherent contradiction.
Here’s another quote which backs up the assertion that it’s both the stronger kenosis (or worse) and Jesus Christ’s lack of sin that is Johnson’s focus. The following even suggests that if one were to follow Jesus’ example one could be sinless (again, this is not unlike New Age / New Spirituality teaching):
Jesus modeled what life could be like for any person that had no sin and was filled with the Spirit of God. He’s eternally God; He’s not a created being – He’s eternally God, but He set aside divinity and chose to live with the same set of restrictions that a human being would have. Why? To set an example for us. Now if He did what He did as God, I’m still impressed; but, I’m not inclined to follow. But when I find out He did it as a man with the same limitations I have, suddenly I’m no longer content to stay where I’m at.73
In the following, a statement in an article in the March 2012 Charisma, Johnson states quite explicitly that Jesus no longer had any deity/divinity during the Incarnation:
While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.
If He did them as God I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow.74
The Charisma article states that this quote was adapted from his book (co-authored with Randy Clark) The Essential Guide to Healing. Here’s the quote from the book which is much the same as above:
…Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man (see Philippians 2:7). While He is eternally God, He chose to live within the restrictions of a man who had no sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit. In doing this, He provided a compelling model for us to follow.75
Each of these suggests not ‘merely’ kenosis but metamorphosis instead, i.e. the Word literally became a man transforming Himself into a human devoid of any deity/divinity.76 Perhaps Johnson was not very careful with his words (and Charisma as well as Chosen Books, the publisher of his book, were equally careless in editing); however, when taken together with the other two statements above and the rest of his Christological statements, something is definitely amiss. This reconfirms the analysis of Johnson’s Christology in part I. Moreover, in looking over all the other evidence noted in this section one may wonder if he is not deliberately making these seemingly confusing and contradictory statements.
However, Johnson does proclaim Christ’s eternal deity in most of these statements, doesn’t he? As regards this ‘affirmation’ issue, this proclamation of Christ, we must look at some Scripture such as 1st Corinthians 12:3, “…and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit”. Gordon Fee, in his commentary on 1st Corinthians, does not see this as a “means of ‘testing the spirits’…” because “…it would seem possible for anyone to say these words at will“.77
The presence of the Spirit in power and gifts makes it easy for God’s people to think of the power and gifts as the real evidence of the Spirit’s presence. Not so for Paul. The ultimate criterion of the Spirit’s activity is the exaltation of Jesus as Lord. Whatever takes away from that, even if they be legitimate expressions of the Spirit, begins to move away from Christ to a more pagan fascination with spiritual activity as an end in itself.78
Following is Craig Blomberg expounding on Matthew 7:15-23:
Jesus now explicitly addresses the situation in which greater numbers profess Christ than actually follow him. He describes some of the pretenders as “false prophets,” those who claim to be God’s spokespersons but are not. Yet, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they give all external appearances of promoting authentic Christianity in both word and work. “Prophets” as in the Old Testament, refer to those who either foretell or “forthtell” God’s word.
Verses 21-22 enumerate some of the ways in which individuals can masquerade as Christians. They may verbally affirm that Jesus is their Master, perhaps with great joy and enthusiasm…some [may] work various kinds of miracles…We are reminded that signs and wonders can come from other sources other than God…It is worth emphasizing, however, that one can never know with absolute certainty the spiritual state of any other individual.79
Blomberg’s last statement works both ways: one cannot affirm with absolute certainty whether another is a Christian and one cannot affirm with absolute certainty that s/he is not. We must look at their ‘fruit’. Johnson’s ‘fruit’, as outlined above, should give us cause for concern.
Keeping in mind the goal as specified by Alice Bailey in part I of this article in “ preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages”,80 the kenosis/metamorphosis teachings may be a way to ‘Christianize’ the concept of reincarnation, i.e. by superimposing this on the subject of the person of Christ in a way that seemingly remains ‘Christian’.
From a Christian perspective one cannot state, “Jesus is eternally God” yet claim, “He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”, as this is a logical contradiction. However, in the esoteric doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are immortal. “Immortal” can be synonymous with “eternal”. And according to the Theosophical doctrine of reincarnation all of these immortal spirits are a part of the one transcendent “God”, so one could say these are “gods” as well. Therefore, one could claim that not only is Jesus “eternally God”, we are also gods, for we all, including Jesus, have these immortal spirits within us!81
Essentially, Bill Johnson, like much, if not all, of the rest of hyper-charismaticism, humanizes Jesus at the expense of His deity. This makes Jesus just like we are, and makes us just like Jesus. Once the playing field is leveled in this way, the door is opened to deify ourselves, to make ourselves into gods. Consider the following Johnson statement with this in mind:
…And the whole issue of Jesus going to the Father was that He would be going as the Resurrected, Ascended, glorified Son of God, and, in that condition would set the stage for what you and I would become. It’s an amazing part of the Gospel. Did you know that Jesus gave up everything to become a man? He owned everything. He and His Father owned everything…But when He became a man – He forfeited everything to become a man.
One of the most amazing truths in the Bible…in John 16 is that Jesus re-inherited everything…He’s talking to His disciples…‘The Father’s given me everything.’ Now think about this. He gave it all up; He forfeited His right to everything to take on a human body and be murdered to take upon Himself what you and I deserve so that we could take upon ourselves what only He deserves. Stunning.
The Father so honored Him for His perfect obedience that He now re-inherited everything; but, now not as God. Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is not an ascended being; He’s not, uh, He didn’t work His way up into divinity. He is eternally God, eternally God. But, when He re-inherited everything, He inherited it as a man without sin. Why? Because He became our elder brother. He became the one who inherited everything. Why? So, that you and I could be positioned to inherit everything with Him. He forfeited all so that He could re-inherit in a way that would include us.82
Note the disclaimer in the last paragraph, “Jesus is not an ascended being…He didn’t work his way up into divinity” and his stammering in the middle. It appears Johnson is well aware of the Christological contradiction inherent in his teaching: Christ cannot be eternally God yet temporally (in our time-space continuum) merely a man during His earthly ministry. But more importantly, he’s obviously aware of New Age teaching which he seems to be trying hard to convince the audience he is not teaching.83
Most importantly, this quote begs the question: what did Jesus relinquish when He “forfeited everything to become a man”, and what did he subsequently “re-inherit in a way that includes us”? Did He become wholly a man complete with the human sin nature yet successfully remain sinless, thereby (re)attaining His salvation and becoming the model for the rest of mankind to follow in order to attain their own salvation in the same fashion? Or, did He forfeit His divinity and subsequently regain it thereby paving the way for mankind to attain deity? Considering all the Christological quotes above, one or both of these seem to be quite logical conclusions to Johnson’s teaching, for it seems Jesus gave up His divinity at the beginning of the Incarnation and reacquired it some time before or at Ascension. This is not inconsistent with WoF doctrine.84
No matter how all this is meant, any interpretation seems not to approach Christian orthodoxy.
Part IIIa will take specific quotes of Bill Johnson and compare these to various quotes from New Age material. In addition, Part IIIb we’ll take a closer look at the “spiritual DNA” teaching and will discuss “the Word made flesh”. All this should prove quite ‘illuminating’.
Recently the Australian government denied Todd Bentley access resulting in the cancellation of the Fresh Fire scheduled tour of Australia. Now Fresh Fire USA Ministries is in financial straits and looking for you to $ow a $eed for a$$istance.
Our last minute delay in our planned tour to Australia was a huge disappointment of course. It was also a huge financial set back for our ministry. Our immediate expenses just in Airfare and travel was over 10,000…The need is still $20,000.
Would you pray with us and consider sowing a seed into our ministry today! If each of you that have been blessed by our ministry over the years would consider a gift at this time we can more than enough recover our shortfall and move forward in 2012. We know that this is a great year of the nations for us.
It’s rather curious that not one prophetic minister friend could foresee that Bentley would be refused entry into Australia thereby averting his financial woes in the first place. Were these prophets all sleeping, in deep thought, busy, or travelling [cf. 1 Kings 18:27]?
It’s also curious that Bentley would need financial assistance given that, according to his friend Bill Johnson (as but one example), the teaching is such that salvation is a full restoration of “His original purpose” meaning no more sin, sickness, or poverty:
“…Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross. In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin. Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less? After all, this is the better covenant!” [When Heaven Invades Earth, 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 33]
Perhaps Bentley just does not yet have the requisite amount of faith.
But I have an idea. In reverse TBN fashion why not just email Todd and ask him to send $200 to you dear reader? Given the purported principle of a 100-fold return, Bentley would subsequently receive his $20,000 with just this one donation! Any takers?
[Update: we are now of the opinion that Paul Cain’s “Joel’s Army” audio referenced in this article was from 1987, rather than the 1989 date assigned here. More specifically, we believe the date of recording is June 28, 1987.]
…[C]ertain accusations about Paul Cain proved to be entirely false, having been based on untruths that were later acknowledged as such. Paul Cain met with the critic, as did John Wimber and others. Though the critic was reluctant to concede the wrong of the report as a whole, he later wrote a letter conceding the godliness of Paul Cain and the reality of his exceptional gifting.
– Dr. John White, foreword to David Pytches’ (revised) Some Said it Thundered1
The “critic” White refers to is obviously Ernie Gruen. These are very strong words although White would later agree that his overall statement was “intemperate.”2 This will be addressed in more detail a bit later. As stated in the first part of this article, the exoneration of Paul Cain by Gruen will be examined in full since this has been used by some to negate the entire Document. Toward this end, we will explore Cain in some detail as well as some of his closest allies of this period including Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer – more commonly “IHOP”), John Wimber and Jack Deere. And since there have been attempts at discrediting the Gruen analysis of the “drought prophecy,” this will be specifically discussed in detail in closing.
Here is the first page of the two page letter3 (three including the ‘15 points/errors’ enclosure):
In effect, point 2 and its sub-points appear to completely contradict nearly the whole of section VI.H in the Gruen Document.4 Let’s examine these points.
Point 2d indicates that Gruen and his staff relied on reports of William Branham’s sons regarding whether or not Cain ministered with the elder Branham.5 Branham’s sons claimed he did not. It will be assumed that Cain and/or Wimber and his staff provided absolute proof to the contrary.6 However, this brings up an associated issue to be discussed later in this article.
In his August 1990 Special Report, Albert James Dager rightly questions Cain’s exoneration given that Cain has openly endorsed KCF/GM:
…[H]ow can Cain be exonerated of GM/KCF’s excessive errors when he has openly endorsed that ministry and appears on their platform? One who endorses a work bears responsibility for that work and is identified with its fruit.7
Part of Cain’s endorsement of GM/KCF included his explicit affirmations of Bob Jones as both a foretelling and forth-telling prophet during this time as the Gruen Document and other sources illustrate.8 So, why were limitations placed on Jones’ ministry as a result of the Vineyard assumption due to his aberrant teachings and practices while Cain continued to be embraced as a prophet? In addition, wasn’t Cain guilty of point/error 9 in the ‘15 points’ referenced in the first part of this article (and enclosed with the July 1 letter) – “[p]ublic predictions of natural disasters, economic events, and divine visitations without the approval of government” – in his purported “earthquake prophecy” of December 1988?9
1 White, John. “Foreword” in Pytches, David. Some Said it Thundered. 1991 (revised, “new edition”), Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; pp xxii-xxiii 2 Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter & the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report. 1995, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; p 126 3 Letter on file including attachment. 4 Gruen, Ernest J. & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries). May 1990, self-published; pp 217-21. / pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf>; pp 123-25. Hereafter listed as pdf first followed by original booklet; e.g.: pp 123-25 / 217-21 5 Gruen, Documentation. pp 124 / 218-19 6 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131 and Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. 1999, Vineyard International Publishers, Ladysmith, Cape Town, South Africa; p 182. Confusingly, at least one subsequent “Re-published” issue has different page numberings. The 2nd issue was Re-published in 2000 as VIP, Cape Town with the same page numbering as the first edition; whereas, the 2010 “Re-published for Amazon” issue (VIP, Cape Town also) has different page numberings. Herein and hereafter, all page numbers will reference the earlier edition followed by the later one, e.g.: p 182 / 175. Neither Beverley nor Jackson provides any specific proof. Is there perhaps an exchange between Cain and Branham recorded or an extant photo which would prove unequivocally? 7 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection”Media Spotlight. Special Report, August 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; pp 6. Report undated, however verified by Dager. 8 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131. Notes Beverley, “Cain’s explicit blessing of Bob Jones was a major error…After Jones was disciplined for…sexual misconduct…I was told that Cain never trusted Jones in the first place.” If he didn’t trust him from the beginning, why would he endorse him so enthusiastically in the first place? Beverley, however, was apparently ill-informed of some of Cain’s doctrines namely Joel’s Army and Manifested Sons of God [see below in this article “Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?”] proclaiming he had “no problem affirming that Cain is orthodox in his basic theology” while acknowledging Cain (and Bob Jones) did teach Joel’s Army [p 123]. The Joel’s Army doctrine as taught by Cain (and Jones) is contrary to basic Christian orthodoxy. 9 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73. “Earthquake prophecy” discussed in some detail including discrepancies in its reporting.
Paul Cain Prophesies Earthquakes?
It’s imperative to understand the significance accorded Paul Cain. To this day, Mike Bickle refers to Cain as one of his “spiritual fathers.”10 Jack Deere was so taken with Cain that he insisted John Wimber meet with him. As James A. Beverley states, “From 1988 to 1991, there was no doubt Paul Cain had ‘superstar’ status in the Vineyard.”11 Cain had been established as the primary prophetic voice at Shiloh Ministries which, as noted in the first part of this article, was largely funded by Vineyard Ministries International [see second paragraph under May 12 in the timeline]:
Grace Ministries team leaders have recognized Paul [Cain] as having the senior prophetic authority over Shiloh and those in prophetic ministry who are based there.12
Wimber even claimed at one point that he was “bonded to Paul Cain for life.”13 One of the reasons for his high stature as a “prophet” was the “earthquake prophecy” which was said to have validated Paul Cain’s message to Wimber and Vineyard: “God has a strategic purpose in this for Paul and the Vineyard Movement.”14
The “earthquake prophecy” came in two parts: there was to be an earthquake in southern California on the day Cain would arrive – December 3, 1990 – and there was to be a big one in another part of the world on the day after Cain was to leave. Paul Cain left Anaheim Vineyard on December 7; so, this would place the second predicted earthquake on December 8. Mike Bickle, in his book Growing in the Prophetic, recounts:
…A week or two before Paul’s scheduled arrival, Dr. Jack Deere, who was at that time an associate pastor with John Wimber in Anaheim, asked Paul if God would grant a prophetic sign to confirm His message for John Wimber and the several hundred Vineyard churches under John’s leadership.
Paul answered, “The day I arrive, there will be an earthquake in your area.” That, however, is not an astounding prediction for southern California.
Jack asked, “Will this be the big one we’ve all been hearing about?”
“No,” Paul answered, “but there will be a big earthquake elsewhere in the world on the day after I leave.” 15
This “prophecy” was also recounted in Wimber’s Equipping the Saints (ETS) magazine specifying Cain’s face-to-face visit with Wimber occurred on the 5th of December.16 There was indeed an earthquake on December 3rd in Pasadena.17 However, John Wimber had later questioned himself as to whether this “prophecy” was actually predicted. Bill Jackson, in The Quest for the Radical Middle, relates:
While Wimber wrote the account as coming before the fact, he later doubted his memory when he re-examined the prophetic. He would later wonder privately if it hadn’t really come after the fact. This is a very important distinction to make because the fact was used to validate Paul Cain’s message to the Vineyard. In a phone conversation, Deere recounted to me in vivid detail the facts surrounding the prophecy, verifying that it did come before the earthquake.18
As stated above, part of this “prophecy” was Cain’s purported prediction that there would be a second “big” earthquake in another part of the world “on the day after he left” Anaheim Vineyard.19 Yet Wimber, in recounting the Deere/Cain conversation in the ETS Fall 1990 article, records the earthquake was to be, quoting Cain, “after I leave” which is less explicit on the timing.20
On the evening of Cain’s departure, December 7, 1988 – which, of course, is notthe day after – there was a catastrophic earthquake in Soviet-Armenia. Deere would later apologize for being unclear in how he stated this “prophecy” initially:
…When Jack Deere realized the error he said he remembered that Paul had not said “the day after I leave” but “after I leave,” thus leaving the timing ambiguous. He apologized for the misquote. It was these kinds of disclaimers that raised the ire of many toward the prophetic because it seemed like backpedaling.21
10 Bickle, Mike, International House of Prayer Encountering Jesus, formerly at <http://www.ihopmp3store.com/Groups/1000021591/IHOP_MP3_Downloads/Free_MP3s/Free_MP3s.aspx> Disc 1 <http://ihopcontent.ihop.org/ihopcntnt/endis/FreeMP3s/Encountering_Jesus_D1.mp3> 18:45 – 19:35, As accessed 10/09/11, now available on Internet Archive (Wayback Machine): https://archive.org/details/EncounteringJesus. Bickle also refers to Bob Jones as his other ‘spiritual father.’ 11 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 130 12 Lambert, Steve “Shiloh: A Prophetic Sanctuary” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 11 as cited in Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection”Media Spotlight. Special Report, April 23, 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; p 4. Also in Dager Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. July 1990, Sword Publishers, Redmond, WA; p 129 and Dager “Latter Day Prophets: The Restoration”; p 5. 13 Hill, Clifford “Kansas City Prophets” Prophecy Today. July/August 1990, Vol 6 No 4; p 6 14 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172 15 Bickle, Michael, M. Sullivant, Growing in the Prophetic. 1996 (5th printing Feb ’98), Creation House, Oakland, FL; p 39. Emphasis added. 16 Wimber “Introducing Prophetic Ministry” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 4-5 17 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73. Jackson erroneously records the date of the Pasadena earthquake as December 5 as it was instead on the 3rd. December 5 was the day Cain purportedly met with Wimber which is likely the source of the error. 18 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179, 189 / 172, 181. Wimber “wondered privately” in a conversation with Todd Hunter. Emphasis added. 19 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172. Emphasis added. 20 Wimber, “Introducing Prophetic”; p 5. Emphasis added. 21 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 189 / 181-82. Recounted to Jackson in phone conversation on April 2, 1999. Emphasis added.
Open Vision of Jack Deere’s Mother and Related Prophecy
Point 2b is problematic. Here’s the account as recorded in the Gruen Document:
Paul Cain claims a person’s dead mother appeared to him and talked with him.
Three people testified that during a conference in Kansas City in April of 1989, Paul Cain called a man out of the congregation and said, “Your brother is okay – your dead mother appeared to me and said he is in heaven with her.” 22
The concession states that it wasn’t necromancy since the woman who appeared to Cain in this open vision was a living person. This account is detailed in the following from an audio tape of that evening:
The portion below pertaining to the account in the Gruen Document is bolded; the rest is shown to provide the broader context. With the benefit of time and a later restatement of this particular account by Jack Deere, this can be analyzed in detail:
Last time the Lord gave me anything like this – and this is the burden of the Lord, Mike, I tell ya. It’s a burden of the Lord because I don’t wanna do it, I don’t wanna do this… I never will forget the reproach that came upon me…and because of the ignorance of… the people, they thought I was talking to the dead. Listen, talking to the dead is nothing new; I talk to the dead every time I get up in a place like this. It’s people walking over dead people that are far more dead than the dead people in the ground.
We misunderstood a lot of things. We take one little isolated Scripture out here that ‘the dead know nothing at all’ and think we’ve got the interpretation of that – if anybody sees someone face to face with the Lord that they’re talkin’ to the dead. That’s the craziest thing I ever heard of. Somebody saw Moses; somebody saw Elijah. Uh, I know Moses died. And, uh, somebody saw him, didn’t they?
…If one of your loved ones was with the Lord; and, you hadn’t had any peace about this, and the Lord just sent a little love note to you tonight, wanting you to have inner peace and happiness, wanting you to be strengthened to serve Him, He might just tell you He was face to face with him, do you believe that? He just might do that.
And, Jack…I want you to stand up; It’s gonna hit you with brute force tonight. Your mother came to me in an open vision this afternoon. Her name is Wanda; second name initial J. – Right? W. J., Wanda, and then she looks like somebody I know named Jean, so, that must be her middle name. And she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost. And she feels a lot of guilt, and a lot of responsibility there. And you don’t know it, but the Lord said, “Cliff is in heaven.” And Cliff, uh – JEWEL – it’s Jewel Clifford, he is in heaven tonight because God saw something in the insanity that came upon him that was demonic. And God, who is a God of perfect justice and perfect equality, said that He took one item from your dad as He did from Abraham and accounted it for righteousness sake. And he did call on Him, and your father, Jewel, as, uh, Joel and Malachi in that day when the Lord makes up his Jewels [ed: Joels?].23
It’s not difficult to understand those in the audience being a bit confused about the details as Cain spoke this rather fast and it IS difficult to figure out the exact relationship each has with the others (except Jack with respect to his mother, of course) confounded even more by the fact that “Jewel” sounds a lot like “Joel.” Furthermore, it’s not difficult to understand confusion as to who was alive or dead with Cain’s long introduction about “talking to the dead.” However, yes, the woman here, Jack Deere’s mother, apparently was alive at this time.
To try to put this in perspective by restating: In an open vision that afternoon Cain saw Deere’s mother who was “talking about a jewel.” Subsequent to this or within this same vision, Cain is claiming he received a “prophetic word” about Deere’s deceased father, Jewel Clifford, with the Lord saying, “Cliff is in heaven.”
Jack Deere recalls this himself in his book Surprised by the Voice of God.24 Tragically, his father had committed suicide when he was just twelve years old and Deere went back and forth in his mind varying between believing his father was in heaven and believing his father was in hell after weighing positive and negative evidence respectively.25
…Then he looked directly at me and said, “Jack, would you stand up please.”
As I rose to my feet, Paul said, “I had a vision of your mother this afternoon. Her name is Wanda Jean. I saw her standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel. That must mean your father’s name is Jewel Clifford. Then I saw your father. When I saw him, he was in heaven, face-to-face with the Lord Jesus. The Lord showed me that sometime before your father had died, like Abraham, he believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness.”
I was absolutely stunned. No one knew my mother’s real name. She hated the name Wanda. She would only use the name Jean. It was one of our best kept family secrets. Likewise, my dad never went by the name Jewel Clifford. Everyone called him Jack. I had never told Paul that my parents’ names were Jean and Jack, let alone that their birth names were Wanda Jean and Jewel Clifford. I knew the only way he could have gotten those names was by supernatural revelation from the Lord.26
Obviously, Deere was paraphrasing Cain’s words and with the passage of time slight variances may be understandable. However, note that Cain never said anything about Deere’s mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel” (although that is a great metaphor) but instead Cain records Wanda Jean as saying “she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost.” Cain never does equate “Clifford” with a “cliff” as in ‘a hill with a steep face’ although he does refer to Deere’s father as “Cliff.”
Contrary to Deere’s definitive statement above, it is plausible that Paul Cain obtained his parents’ names by other means, even other supernatural means. This would not be the only time a Paul Cain “prophecy” was declared to be obtainable only from the Lord when that was not necessarily the case.27
In his book, Deere relates that the very next day after Cain delivers this “word” to him, Deere takes Cain to the pastor’s luncheon and he asks Paul why the Lord would choose to reveal this to him now as he had “put the whole subject out of his mind”:
As far as I knew, it didn’t trouble me any longer. I wanted to know if the Lord had shown Paul why he had given me this revelation.28
Deere goes on state that the Lord had revealed to Paul Cain that there was a root of bitterness “over the possibility that he [Deere’s father] might spend eternity in hell.” Deere claims that in retrospect the “word” had helped significantly in softening his heart.29 However, that evening, the very next night after Cain’s initial “prophecy,” Paul Cain expounds on the “prophetic word” he had provided the night before which conflicts with Deere’s account:
There was a revelation that changed a man’s life last night. Did you know this former Dallas Theological Seminary professor that was ministered to last night? What you didn’t know was the demons of hell came and they said, “We have your father. And, we’re gonna take you, we will take you to your father.” And then the Heavenly Father last night through His omniscience began to reveal, “No, your father, your father Jewel Clifford he is with the Lord – face to face with the Lord.” That was a transforming act of God; that was the mercy of God. I got to deliver it with the jealousy of God and that changed Jack Deere’s life…30
Deere’s book mentions nothing about being approached by demons claiming his father was in hell; in fact, Deere claims he felt the whole matter was no longer forefront on his mind during that time. According to Deere, Cain’s words to him on the way to lunch were, “Paul told me that after I had become a Christian, the question of my father’s eternal destiny troubled me more than I realized.”31 That’s a far cry from, “the demons of hell came and they said ‘we have your father…and…we will take you to your father’” which would obviously be very troubling and it would be doubtful that this would have been put out of Deere’s mind.
As a contrast, it’s interesting to note that after initially ‘misquoting’ the timing of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy,” Deere later would recall “in vivid detail” the facts concerning that particular “prophecy” yet in a very personal “prophecy” – one that “changed a man’s life” – he adds the detail about his mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel” and either doesn’t remember or chooses for some reason not to disclose the fact that demons appeared to him telling him his father was in hell. In fact, the latter appears to conflict with his statement that he would go back and forth in believing his father was either in heaven or in hell.
Wouldn’t it seem more likely that a personal prophecy would be more ingrained in an individual’s memory than another one which is not so distinctly personal? This is even more curious in view of the fact that the ‘earthquake prophecy’ was purportedly spoken circa late November 1988 with Deere recollecting this in an April 1999 conversation with Bill Jackson32 – a full 10 years later – as compared to the fact that the ‘prophecy’ concerning Deere’s father was spoken in April of 1989 with Deere recounting this in his book published in 1996.33
22 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 220. Emphasis in original. 23 Cain, Paul “Who Will Ascend the Lord’s Hill?” cassette tape [PC05-002] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 2, side 2. While there’s no date listed, internal evidence points to it being at Kansas City Fellowship in April of 1989 since: 1) the venue is made obvious in various places in the recordings contained in this set; 2) Cain mentions things to occur in the ‘90s and some things to occur before the end of ’89; 3) Cain mentions “demonic killings in Mexico” he had just read about in the newspaper which is very likely the Matamoros ritual killings which made headlines in April of 1989; 4) an eyewitness recalls being there during this timeframe; and, 5) the details of this open vision seem to match up with the account spoken of in the Gruen Document [item VI.H.5] as corrected in the July 1, 1990 letter which is dated April 1989. Taking all this into consideration, this tape set is most likely from April 1989, and unless anyone can produce proof to the contrary, this will be assumed to be the account referenced in the Gruen Document. In a 1995 MorningStar Ministries catalog this set is listed as a 4-tape set including “Consumed by His Jealousy” as the fourth tape [PC05-004]. 24 Deere, Jack Surprised by the Voice of God. 1996, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 176. Deere mistakenly mentions this as occurring at Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship instead of KCF – that is, unless this “prophecy” was later recycled. 25 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177 26 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 176 27 Beverley, Holy Laughter; pp 132-33 28 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177 29 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177 30 Cain, Paul “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” cassette tape [PC05-003], The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 3, side 1. Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989. 31 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177 32 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 189 / 181. The “circa late November 1988” timing of Cain’s purported stating of the “earthquake prophecy” was gleaned from Bickle’s statement that this was “a week or two before” Cain’s arrival at Anaheim Vineyard in Growing in the Prophetic. p 39 33 Deere, Surprised by Voice. pp 176-177
Paul Cain a True Prophet?
Paul Cain was said to provide remarkable words of knowledge. Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God is dedicated to Cain describing him as a “true prophet.”34 In a chapter detailing how to properly facilitate prophecy, Deere mentions that prophetic words should always be given with humility. He states, “The most skillful prophetic people I know avoid phrases like ‘Thus says the Lord…’” as this implies “a very high level of clarity and authority…that God is not giving to very many people today.”35 Yet, in another audio from 1989 at Kansas City Fellowship, Cain quips that he trades “words” with Bob Jones and John Paul Jackson each one prefaced with “thus saith the Lord”:
…I tell ya, I had a vision – I can’t get around John Paul without havin’ a vision – you know prophets when they get around each other they, if they don’t have anyone else to work on, they just work on each other. I mean they just say, “thus saith the Lord” and then they’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU!” [audience laughter] and, then I’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU buddy!” – and so on.Ya know it’s a really exciting thing. But every time I get around Bob he has a word from the Lord for me; and, I’m very humble – I don’t usually come back right away. But I go home and the Lord gives me some stuff that almost makes me explode, and I’m just BUSTIN’ to give you this. But John, I know this is irreverent…36
This is indeed irreverent, very much so, and obviously this lacks humility as well. We have to ask ourselves if a Holy God would take part in this sort of irreverent silliness. Perhaps Cain, Jones and Jackson feel they had “a very high level of clarity and authority” and thus could “prophecy” using the words “thus saith the Lord” at will. Maybe Cain was just joking around, but this is no laughing matter.
Take note that both Jones and Jackson would be limited in their ministries once Wimber/Vineyard took the reins of KCF in May of 1990. John Wimber was in the audience that day as this transcript makes clear; so, why did Wimber continue to promote and laud Cain as a prophet afterward while Jones and Jackson were restrained? This is especially important as Wimber claimed that Mike Bickle had asked him about KCF becoming a Vineyard as early as May of 1989 as he “was looking for pastoral accountability and a larger movement for KCF’s covering.” Wimber also states, “Mike regularly communicated with me during this time, and looked to me for pastoral care and direction.”37
In his book What Happened to the Fire?, J. Lee Grady makes observations about Cain after attending a conference in San Antonio in December of 1989.38 In a chapter titled “Fabricating the Anointing,” Grady records Cain as calling out ‘words’ to attendees such as “first names, cities, street numbers.” However, Grady notes that those called were mostly staff of the ministries who put on the conference (he knew some of these people personally) and that the information used to call these individuals out was accessible to Cain beforehand. Grady remarks that it was likely most attendees were astonished by what appeared to be “the remarkable demonstration of the word of knowledge”:39
…It seemed Cain had literally “read these people’s mail” by recounting personal information he could not have known about total strangers. But I found myself struggling with what happened that night…
…[I]t disturbed me that almost everyone who received these prophetic directives was part of the full-time staff of ministry sponsoring the conference. It also seemed puzzling that all the information Cain ostensibly received from God was printed in a staff address directory that I knew was easily accessible to conference speakers. Surely Paul Cain would not have studied that list prior to the meeting, then “recalled” the names and numbers to make us think he had revelatory powers!…40
Later on, Grady would interview Cain who stressed “no one has ever proved that he obtains information from any source other than God.” Grady also followed up on some “prophecies” given and discovered that, of the ones he checked, most of these predictions not only did not come to pass, some had actually proved to be quite the contrary. When asked for an explanation as to why these prophecies had not been fulfilled, Cain dodged the questions, but “through a friend, denied any wrongdoing.”41
34 Deere, Surprised by Voice. Dedication on unnumbered page preceding table of contents. David Pytches describes Cain as one who “would certainly fall into the category of a present-day prophet.” [Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression), Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK; p 16; also in Pytches’ 1991 “new edition”; p 17]. 35 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 193 36 Cain, Paul Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape, 1989, GraceMinistries, Grandview, MO; near beginning of side 2 at 39:08 – 39:45. Cain would go on claiming he had a “word from the Lord” for John Wimber. 37 Wimber “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; p 3. Also, it should be noted that Wimber referred to Cain as a prophet given his words regarding Cain and the New Breed teaching, “…it’s been prophesied by Paul Cain, and I think it’s a very important concept” in an undated tape circa 1989 or early 1990 [“Unpacking Your Bags” tape, undated, as sourced in Dager’s April 23, 1990 Special Report; p 12]. 38 Grady, J. Lee What Happened to the Fire?. 1994, Chosen Books – a division of Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 113 39 Grady, What Happened, p 115 40 Grady, What Happened, p 115. Emphasis added. 41 Grady, What Happened, p 116
Cain Absolved of Occultism?
One could argue that seeing a dead person – Jewel Clifford, Deere’s father – purportedly face-to-face with Jesus in heaven could be considered of the occult. Furthermore, it could be construed that the vision of Deere’s mother in which she was “talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost” is occultic since it involved verbal communication. Note that the July 1 letter states that it was discovered “on careful review” that this account was not necromancy which is presumably in the narrow sense of ‘communication with the dead’ rather than the broader meaning of ‘black magic’ in general. However, also note that Gruen specifically stated that the concessions were made on “points that could be disputed and argued about.”
Cain’s admitted association with and promotion of William Branham as “the greatest prophet that ever lived” raises an associated question as there are those who believe Branham was an agent of the occult. Kurt Koch relates that Branham was limited in his healing: “if my angel does not give the sign, I cannot heal.”42 The following, in his book Occult A-B-C, provides more indication of occultism:
Another evidence [of spiritistic (occult) healing] is the fact that…Branham [was unable] to perform cures when faced with born-again Christians who had committed themselves to the protection of [Jesus] Christ…When he [Branham] spoke in Karlsruhe and Lausanne, there were several believers in the audience – including myself – who prayed along these lines: “Lord, if this man’s powers are from You, then bless and use him, but if the healing gifts are not from You, then hinder him.” The result? On both occasions Branham said from the platform, “There are disturbing powers here, I can do nothing.” 43
This is not unlike an account as related by Constance Cumbey regarding New Ager Benjamin Crème in an incident after he spoke at a gathering. Following Cumbey’s praying aloud of the “Lord’s Prayer” while the other attendees were praying The Great Invocation – essentially a prayer to the New Age Christ, or antichrist – the expected “overshadowing” by ‘Maitreya the Christ’ did not manifest itself in Crème and he dismissed the crowd with, “That will be all.”44
While the following may or may not be related to the above, it is certainly of interest. Recall in the first part of this article that in March of 1990 Wimber, Deere and Cain were met with open opposition during a conference in Sydney, Australia. Jack Deere recounts a portion of this in his book The Gift of Prophecy.45 On the second night of the conference, Cain was apparently distracted and had a difficult time teaching. Nevertheless, both the audience and Deere were anticipating a Paul Cain prophecy session after the teaching was over. However, Cain “simply walked off the stage” instead.46
The next day when Deere inquired about this, Cain replied, “The price I pay for my gift is living with the disappointment of people and enduring the embarrassment of being deserted by the anointing.”47 [see “The ‘Christ Anointing’” section of “Christ” in the New Age article for more on “the anointing.”] Is it possible that the Vineyard/Wimber/Deere/Cain opponents in Sydney did something similar to what Koch and his associates or Cumbey had done thereby causing this particular episode of “embarrassment?”
In the following, from the same evening as the “prophecy” for Deere, Paul Cain reminisces about his first meeting in which he spoke at an A/G church near Dallas and recalls how he understood the background of someone in the audience:
I looked over and I saw a lady – and I’m not going to tell you how I see these things because right away you would say “oh, that’s the occult” – I just wanna make one thing very clear: the New Agers and the occult, I’d like for you to know that they got all this stuff from God in the first place. And the devil’s had it so long we think it belongs to him; I think it’s time we take it all back. Because God is the God of Light, He’s the God of the amber light and the glory…
Anyway, I saw this light over her and the vision came to pass. I said, “Lady sitting back here in the green and white polka dot dress, you’re from San Antone [sic], Texas and you’re cripple [sic]. Get up and run to that aisle immediately…” 48
Cain goes on claiming this lady, who “came in a wheelchair” although he “didn’t realize this at first,” ran “up and down the aisles” being completely healed. Continuing, Cain follows with another account in which he claims “the angel of the Lord” told him she had colitis.49 Is this angel similar to Branham’s healing angel, like the one Todd Bentley claimed in Lakeland in 2008? If so, is it possible that in the Sydney “embarrassment” the angel “did not give the sign” as would happen to Branham?
The transcript in VI.H.3 of the Gruen Document, “Smelling demons”,50 certainly displays the hallmarks of occultism:
When I was a young man and first received the anointing, I could smell a cancer; I could smell a demon; I could smell different types of sin. They all had a stench; they all had a different smell; they were identifying themselves. You could smell infidelity and adultery…51
This is transcribed from the “7 Spirits of God” tape which was one of those deleted in June 1990 [see previous post]. As of yet, this audio has not been recovered; so, this transcript cannot be either affirmed or denounced.
Perhaps a more clear case of occultism is found in the following. From the same evening Cain relates that Jack Deere was approached by demons who were trying to take Deere to visit his father in hell, Cain recounts how “the Lord” hit him on the chest:
…I told you the story when the Lord came to me one night I went to bed meditating on something that Augustine [ed: likely Augustine Acolla (also spelled Alcala)] said. He said, “Man was made to find his home in God and man can’t rest until he finds his home in God.” – or something like that. And I went to sleep meditating on that one night and I woke – well, I’m not even gonna tell you this ‘cause you wouldn’t believe it anyway, just leave me asleep if you want to. Call it a dream. Call it anything; but, I tell ya I call it ‘scary.’The Lord took his two fingers and began to punch me in the chest…” 52
Now THAT must’ve left a bruise! Dager notes “other phenomena akin to occult spiritual activity” have been observed while Cain ministered.53 It has been reported that one night in 1988 at Olathe Worship Center, a part of KCF, Cain caused a surge of electricity short-circuiting circuits resulting in the fire alarm system activating. Purportedly, unbeknownst to the KCF congregation, the local fire station was dispatched and the firemen were surprised there wasn’t a fire.54 A similar thing was claimed to have happened when Cain was speaking at the Spiritual Warfare Conference at Anaheim Vineyard in February of 1989:55
On the first occasion in Anaheim, an expensive video camera was short circuited. This was particularly unusual because the camera was battery powered. It was not plugged into any outlet.
The following night, the telephone system was blown-out [sic]. This was notable because no one was on the phone at the time.56
Apparently, on a subsequent night at the same conference, Cain himself speaks of these occasions. From audio of this conference, one of “Stadium Visions” available on his own site, Cain relates
…But, He’s gonna DO that and when He does you’re gonna have more than just a little omnipotent surge. You’re gonna have something MORE than something that’ll knock out the cameras and knock out the phone lines and knock out all the power lines and set off the fire alarms like it did in Kansas City or Olathe, Kansas and a little bit of that happened here [in Anaheim, CA]. You’re gonna have something MORE than that…57
Dager comments, “One must wonder if the Holy Spirit is a clumsy, out of control source of electrical energy. Such happenings are not dissimilar to those that occur during UFO sightings or poltergeist activity…”58
42 Koch, Kurt Occult A-B-C. 1986 (second edition), Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI; p 235 43 Koch, Occult A-B-C. p 235 44 Cumbey, Constance. video Discovering the New Age Movement. 2006, Radio Liberty Conference hosted by Stanley Monteith <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8937919448007045479> starting at around 46:10. Cumbey described this ‘non-event’ as the “spookiest thing of the evening.” As accessed 10/15/11 45 Deere, Jack The Gift of Prophecy. 2001, Servant Publishers, Ann Arbor, MI; pp 72-74 46 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 72-73 47 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 73-74 48 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” cassette tape [PC05-001] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 1, side 2. Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989. 49 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” side 2 50 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219 51 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219 52 Cain “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” side 2 53 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7 54 Sullivant, Terri “Paul Cain’s Ministry: Recent Manifestations of the Holy Spirit” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7 55 Sullivant, Terry “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7. Dager records this conference as 1988 rather than 1989 (presumably receiving this from Sullivant) which seems to conflict with the overall chronology as Cain was not introduced to Wimber until December 5, 1988. According to Jackson [Radical Middle. pp 179 / 171-172], Bob Jones purportedly told Bickle that Wimber would call him “in early 1988” opening the door “for future ministry” with Wimber and Vineyard. Purportedly, the call came “five days later” resulting in Wimber and Bickle ministering together in the UK in the fall of 1988. With this in mind, it would seem unlikely that Cain was at an early 1988 conference at Anaheim Vineyard. If this supposition is incorrect, the reader is asked to provide substantiation in order to correct this. 56 Sullivant, T. “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7 57 Cain, Paul “Stadium Vision: Anaheim Vineyard” taken from February 1989 Spiritual Warfare Conference <http://www.paulcain.org/sandbox/newsite/pages/Stadium%20vision/stadiumvision.html> as accessed 10/15/11 58 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 133 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?
The most confounding concession is point 2a which is the claim, “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.” The transcripts clearly indicate Cain was teaching the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) heretical doctrine. The MSoG heresy is such that certain individuals will receive their imperishable, resurrection bodies [see I Corinthians 15:50-54] while remaining here on earth in an invincible state attaining immortality with the ability to go through walls, etc.
Dager, in his August 1990 article, states flatly
…[Gruen] is in error in saying that Cain does not hold to Manifest Sons of God doctrine; Cain’s teachings on Joel’s Army and on immortalization are purely Manifest Sons of God doctrine.”59
In Dager’s April 23rd article (and also in a chapter in his full-length book Vengeance is Ours as well as the follow up article in August), he provided his own proof that Cain taught MSoG by quoting from the KCF tape “A New Breed” – another one of the tapes on the June 1990 discontinued list [though, notably, not referenced at all in the Gruen Document] – which follows:
Now I know which is perfect is come [sic], that which is imperfect must be done away. But anyone knows that which is perfect has come. And we don’t have the full revelation – we haven’t grown up in the stature of Christ as we should. And there is no manifestation on a wholesale basis of the sons of God. And I’m not afraid to mention that even though I get shot down everywhere I go every time I mention the manifestation of the sons of God. I’m not afraid to mention any biblical, scriptural terminology…60
So my point is that there will be a manifestation of the sons and daughters of God. And it won’t be this baloney that we’ve heard of in the past; I mean, there’s been a few people who tried to walk through a wall like this over there and knocked their brains loose, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a true manifested son of God: if anyone walks through this wall over here, they’re not going to tell you about it – I mean, they’re just going to do it. And sons of God don’t tell you they’re sons of God, they’ll just show you! Amen!61
Dager clearly illustrates that Cain taught MSoG; however, are the Gruen Document transcripts in error or fabricated? We can safely say “No.” Existing digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape – yet another one of the tapes on the discontinued list [identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC”] – prove that the transcripts faithfully represent Cain’s words although a small portion is apparently edited.62 However, this missing section does not affect proving unequivocally that the Gruen Document does in fact show that Paul Cain was teaching MSoG which, as noted, is heresy.
“Joel’s Army” is another term for MSoG taken from a misapplication of Joel 2:1-11. The fact that this “Joel’s Army” is the same as Manifested Sons of God in the Paul Cain vernacular is evidenced by Cain’s words as quoted in item VI.H.6: “…this army is also in the New Testament…”
Using the digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape, we can put Cain’s words in the Gruen Document in chronological order (excluding the portion not on the audio in possession obviously). Additional transcription from the audio providing more of the original context will be in plain text while portions from the transcripts of the Gruen Document will be italicized. The Gruen Document transcriptions are underscored as per the original, bolding is added for emphasis, and CAPS are used when Cain is emphatic. Repeats and stammers are mostly edited out.
Cain begins by talking about a vision of Bob Jones’ in which “the wind and the fire” are present and the pages of a Bible are turning. Notice that the portion from the Gruen Document (in italics, as stated) is claimed to be a direct quote from the Lord for Cain. There’s a second one for John Paul Jackson:
…And then…it stopped at St. John 15…He said that He’s the true vine and you’re the branches. It seemed as though the Lord reiterated that to my heart again…He had already shown me that a dozen times before. He said, “If you can get into this vine,if you’re really in the vine and you’re in the branch, then the life sap from the Son of the living God keeps you from cancer, keeps you from dying, keeps you from death, keeps ya from so many things.” And I said, “Yes Lord.” …And then it blew on over to St. John 16…it came alive…The Lord said, “That’s for John Paul. And just tell him that my Word is coming alive…”63
This illustrates that Cain is espousing the idea that the Lord is giving “new revelation” to certain “prophets” for the Church. So, how does one “really” get “into this vine?” The answer is revealed by the next section in which the ellipse […] in the Gruen Document is filled in providing the full context of Cain’s words. It all has to do with “intimacy”:
So this is a billion soul crusade, Bob. Your billion, your billion, my billion, and I want you to know that just fills me and thrills me and chills me, and Lord, please don’t let it kill me. It’s just so good. I’m going to live to see this, friends, I really believe it. If I can get through this message. So, they shut the Apostles…up in prison, they killed James, they stoned Stephen, and finally martyred all the Apostles with the possible exception of John, Saint John the Divine. I don’t think they killed him ‘cause he leaned on Jesus’ bosom and he had the heartbeat of God. God loved him so much. If you have intimacy with God, they can’t kill you. They just can’t. There’s something about [ya]; you’re connected to that vine; you’re just so close to him. Oh, my friends, they can’t kill [ya]. God takes care of them. He said, “I love them that love Me.” Isn’t that wonderful? So, I don’t think we have any record where they kill John…He may be the Enoch…as far as the martyrs are concerned. I don’t believe that he was martyred…64
That’s an interesting thesis: on the basis of the fact that the Apostle John had leaned on Jesus’ bosom and because neither Scripture nor, presumably, any extant historical evidence records John’s death, Cain conjectures that John was taken up like Enoch never experiencing a physical death. Consequently, if we were to have this same sort of intimacy with God we could not be killed. This sort of “intimacy” then provides the means to attaining manifested sons of God status – truly perfected saints, the invincible Joel’s Army:
…I saw that when they shut the Apostles up in prison; they killed all of them, and except maybe John. Many spiritual saints were slain also because of their testimony throughout the past centuries. But this is what God showed me: But this army is invincible. They are never put into prison; they are never delivered into the hands of their enemies…They go behind iron bars and iron gates and Iron Curtain and they enter into windows like a THIEF. Even those behind bars and in cells and in dungeons must hear the message that we preach and if it’s accepted they bring them out to freedom and to safety. And nothing shall escape it. WE have the authority then!65
So, this “intimacy” not only provides invincibility to the members of this army; it provides full earthly authority! However, this perfection may not come immediately:
…But we may not reach that kind of perfection right away…But we can repent right clear down to the bottom; we’re gonna get to that kind of repentance. And if we fail after repentance, we’re gonna repent again…66
According to Cain, God wants you to join Joel’s Army and enlistment will put both you and God “back on the map.” Has God ever really been ‘off’ the map?
…But nevertheless God’s gonna have a people that’s gonna put Him back on the map again. Amen. And He’s gonna put us on the map again, isn’t He. Let’s make up our minds to this fact. God’s going to – He’s not gonna make ya do it – but, I want you to know this army is going to be available to ya; if you want to enlist tonight…67
In the following, Cain makes it very clear that this perfected army is specified in the New Testament, not just the Old Testament. Not only that – it’s for the final, special end time generation only. And he identifies the generation he was speaking with at the time as that privileged generation of the end time. Cain identifies this Joel’s Army as the man-child, the overcomers, the 144,000 of Revelation 7, the bride of the Lamb, the manifested sons of God, and others:
…This army is also in the New Testament. It’s referred to as the man child. I know some of you’s gonna disagree with this; don’t you even stop to disagree. Revelation 12:25 [sic], if you disagree, just file it in Miscellaneous and don’t bother with it. When we get to heaven we’ll check it out, and you’ll find out I’m right. Here it is–this great army in the New Testament is aman child, Revelation 12:5; the overcomers, Revelation 2 and 3; the 144,000 servants, Revelation 7:3; the bride of the Lamb’s wife [sic]– see why they call me in on the carpet? – the revelation of the Lamb’s wife, Revelation 19:7 and 21:9; and the white horse. Revelation 6:2; the first fruit. Revelation 14:4; the precious fruit. James 5:7; the wise virgins. Matthew 21:1 – 13 [sic]; the manifested sons of God. Romans 8:19 – 23, and it’s certainly a remarkable fact that none of these names are expressions applied to the saints of God at any other time in history, but all of them are in their context and promises showing undeniably that they belong to the time of the end. The end time, let’s say the end time. They belong to the end time to this present generation, Matthew 24:34…the Lord says, “today, today, today.” And today harden not your hearts, but it applies to the end time, this is the end time and God wants us to realize once and again, in closing, that there’s gonna be a great company of overcomers prepared for this mighty ministry which I call the prize of all ages. And again, God’s offering to the believers ofthis generation a greater privilege than was ever been offered to any people of any generation at any time from Adam clear down through the end of the millennium…68
Note that Cain states “Revelation 12:25” which is an obvious error as the 12th chapter of Revelation ends with verse 17. In his zeal, Cain misspoke as he meant “Revelation 12:2-5” instead since these are the verses used to denote the “man-child” doctrine. Also, he mistakenly says “bride of the Lamb’s wife” instead of “bride of the Lamb” and he quotes the wrong Scripture for “the wise virgins” which should be Matthew 25:1-13 instead of 21:1-13 in all his excitement.
59 Dager “The Restoration” p 16 60 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 144 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12 61 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 145 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12 62 Cain, Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape; however, the tape is apparently edited. Frustratingly, the extant audio is missing the latter portion of item VI.H.1(the portion after the first ellipse of the last paragraph) and all of item VI.H.4 in Gruen Documentation; p 123-24, 124 / 218, 217. However, the remaining audio is quite enough to illustrate that the Gruen Document transcripts faithfully represent the audio/tape. It appears that the tape used for the Gruen transcription either had the sides reversed or the transcriber reversed the sides during transcription. The transcripts from the Gruen Document are put into their original chronological order as this may provide a better understanding of Cain’s overall message. 63 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 1 at 41:05 – 42:15. The digitized audio records the tape abruptly ending with “this concludes side one; please turn the tape over” and then after a short duration, the audio resumes at the same place at which side one ended. However, at 43:18 there is an obvious edit with Cain coming back in speaking on a totally different subject. This is apparently the section which had been edited. The quoted portion transcribed is from VI.H.1, third paragraph excepting the edited verbiage after the ellipse. This picks up soon after the transcription at footnote 35 ends. 64 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 53:21 – 54:39. Includes VI.H.1, first paragraph. 65 Cain, Joel’s Army. side 2 at 55:01 – 55:48. Includes VI.H.1, second paragraph. 66 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:03:19 – 1:03:37 67 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:04:12 – 1:04:30 68 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:05:37 – 1:07:26. Includes all of VI.H.6
Assessing Gruen’s Concessions
Let’s recap Gruen’s concessions specifically related to Paul Cain. As stated, “Paul Cain did minister with William Branham” [point 2d]. Assuming this is indeed true, it appears to be an honest mistake on Gruen’s part and a mistake which needed to be corrected.
While it is apparently true that the woman (Jack Deere’s mother) who appeared to Paul Cain in the open vision recorded in the Gruen Document was a living person [point 2b], it has been shown that this vision and the associated vision of Cain seeing Deere’s deceased father in heaven could be construed as of the occult. In addition, Cain’s association with and promotion of William Branham, who apparently used occult powers being rendered powerless when Christians were praying, adds more credibility to the possibility of occultism [point 2c]. Moreover, as mentioned above, there are other accounts which suggest the possibility of occultic activity.
Gruen’s only specific mention of anything related to occultism was the claim of necromancy, i.e. communing with the dead, associated with the open vision in which, as noted, the woman was actually still living. The “Smelling Demons” section may be considered a claim of occultism also which, as stated earlier, cannot be either affirmed or denounced since there’s no extant audio. Yet witness Gruen’s words in the concession, “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry.” Gruen may have still suspected it yet felt like he could not make a strong enough case. Let’s not overlook the words before the list of the three points, “it is obvious there are points that could be disputed and argued about.”
Using existing audio from the tape identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC” (known as “Joel’s Army” and numbered among the tapes which were discontinued), it has been shown that the document faithfully represents these portions of the tape (to the extent of the audio recovered so far) thus proving that Cain did in fact teach the Manifested Sons of God heresy [point 2a]. Obviously if one teaches such a heresy this could call into question a proclamation of the individual being “a godly man and a man of integrity” as MSoG is not faithful to orthodox interpretations of Scripture and is blasphemous since it, in essence, equates man with God. So, why did Gruen concede these points?
The way point 2a is worded may provide a clue: “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.” This sentence is phrased rather peculiarly. This appears to state that Cain does not currently hold to MSoG, formerly adhered to this teaching as the Gruen Document illustrates, yet nevertheless denies ever having believed in this doctrine perhaps keeping in mind the tapes which had recently (at the time) been discontinued. Gruen’s statement would not necessarily contradict his preface, “In my limited dealings with Paul Cain, I have found him to be a godly man and a man of integrity.” With this, Gruen could merely be admitting he’s had “limited dealings” with Cain and each time Cain was found to display integrity and godliness. This discreet statement would not be inconsistent with the testimony of others.69
Furthermore, note that the phrase “We completely exonerate Paul Cain of any negative charges” is specifically in conjunction with “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry” in sub-point ‘c’ rather than the preface which would have necessarily encompassed all the sub-points: ‘a’ through ‘e’. Does this mean Gruen only intended the “we completely exonerate…” phrase to be specifically in connection with occultism such that the “negative charges” only pertain to occultism? As it’s written, it seems possible this phrase of exoneration does not apply to sub-points ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘d’ & ‘e’. It appears that each sub-point addresses one specific item namely: sub-point ‘a’ – Manifested Sons doctrine; ‘b’ – the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ – occultism; ‘d’ – Cain’s association with Branham; and, ‘e’ – a blanket apology.
However, we must concede the possibility that the list is placed in order with each sub-point necessarily following the other. In this case sub-point ‘a’ addresses MSoG as per the explanation two paragraphs above; ‘b’ addresses the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ exonerates Cain of MSoG, necromancy, and occultism while specifying that occultism is not known to be associated with him; ‘d’ speaks of Cain’s connection to Branham; and ‘e’ is a blanket apology.
James A. Beverley scrutinized the Gruen Document after having read a “scathing review” of Gruen in Wimber’s own Equipping the Saints magazine titled “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” from fall of 1990.70 This review was written and published after Gruen’s concessions above and included those concessions in the body of the report. Based on its contents, Beverley expected a poorly documented, biased work with texts being taken out of their context. However, upon reading the Gruen Document and comparing with KCF material Beverley commented, “…Gruen had every right to warn the charismatic world.”71
Beverley criticized Wimber’s article as “unbalanced and faulty.” He recognized a number of specific points that the Gruen Document brought forth including “the ridiculous wholesale verdict that Pastor Gruen’s accusations are untrue;” that “it failed to give sufficient acknowledgement of the…elitist spirit evident in the material documented by Gruen;” and, that it failed to recognize “an eschatology far removed from exegesis and [that was] rooted instead in thesubjective, mystical experiences of Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, and Paul Cain.”72
In addition, Beverley states the ETS article was essentially Jack Deere’s report73 although this, if indeed true, in no way absolves Wimber of full responsibility since it bears his name. According to Beverley, John Wimber would later contact Gruen privately “to express his regret that their response to him was so careless and unbalanced.”74 Vineyard, however, never did publicly apologize.75 Jackson states Deere “was openly sympathetic toward Bickle” and “a source close to Wimber later came to believe that the facts had been somewhat biased toward KCF…”76 As for Gruen, he “decided the Lord did not want him to reply” to this report.77
While noting the biased nature of David Pytches’ book Some Said it Thundered describing it as an “overly optimistic interpretation of KCF,”78 Beverley relates White’s later agreement with Beverley’s charge of ‘intemperance’ regarding his foreword to Pytches’ book:
…Dr. White, in a spirit of graciousness, wrote me later and agreed that my verdict was correct. My view was based on his harsh statements about Ernie Gruen and his uncritical acceptance of Vineyard’s written reply about Gruen.79
It’s a shame there isn’t a further revision to Pytches’ book including a more balanced Dr. White foreword. Also note that contrary to a portion of White’s claim in the quote which begins this article, Gruen does not concede “the reality of [Cain’s] exceptional gifting” as Gruen makes no mention at all about Cain’s “gifting.”
Attempts have been made to discredit both the Gruen Document and Gruen himself over the years. Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article, Pytches’ book, and Jackson’s work have been used in this endeavor. Jackson mentions that it was “public knowledge” that Gruen “was in an immoral relationship at the time” but does not provide an adequate source for this statement.80 While it is true Gruen did begin divorce proceedings in May of 1993,81 nearly three years after his promise to stop sending out the Gruen Document (his marriage was subsequently restored about 2 years later82), these rumors of immorality have not been substantiated.
In any event, whether Gruen was involved in immorality at the time or not, the Gruen Document stands or falls with respect to its veracity. To the extent it can be proven true, it is true; to the extent it can be proven false, it is false. Notwithstanding the concessions in the July 1, 1990 letter and taking into account the findings here regarding the charge of MSoG, there is no evidence we have found suggesting that any aspect of the Gruen Document is false. (However, see below in “A Drought Evolves” section.) In fairness, any claim that a part or parts of the Gruen document is/are false should be accompanied by specific proof of same.
In assessing all the above, the following information must be kept in mind:
1) The July 1 letter was “a summary letter of the result” of the June 28 meeting consisting of Gruen and his staff with Wimber, Cain and Deere in which the Gruen Document was reportedly reviewed “page by page” by all parties involved. Presumably, these concessions were a joint decision by all since these were affirmed, or at least not denied either in part or in full, in Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship.”83
2) Paul Cain was celebrated by Wimber and favored by him to the point that he claimed the two were “bonded for life.” That’s a very strong connection between the two. Likewise, Jack Deere continued to promote Cain as a “true prophet.” Moreover, Vineyard Ministries International had a financial stake in Paul Cain in providing the majority of the funding for Grace Ministries Shiloh project by fall 1989 with Cain as its senior prophetic voice.
3) Given that we can prove the veracity of the large majority of the Paul Cain transcripts – over half of the portion specifically pertaining to Cain – thereby proving the “Joel’s Army” tape did indeed teach the Manifested Sons of God doctrine, why did Gruen state specifically that Cain “does not hold to the Manifested Sons doctrine, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching” and why did Wimber and company agree with this? Is the analysis above correct regarding the interpretation of this statement; and, if so, does this mean Paul Cain, John Wimber, Jack Deere and Mike Bickle no longer adhere to and/or claim to have never adhered to MSoG? This will be the subject of two future articles – one specifically with regard to John Wimber, the other Mike Bickle.
4) Why was the Paul Cain “Joel’s Army” tape discontinued? If the claim is that Cain did not teach MSoG, wouldn’t this tape be kept in circulation by KCF turned Metro Vineyard Fellowship to illustrate that the Gruen Document was in error in order to ‘vindicate’ Paul Cain especially since the transcripts from this tape make up over half the information on Cain in the Gruen Document? Why were the other Paul Cain tapes discontinued some of which were not even referenced in the Gruen Document?
5) Gruen stands by the Document stating, “We still believe our documentation of the aberrant practices and teachings of Kansas City Fellowship are essentially accurate” in prefacing the three conceded points.
69 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131. Beverley states that most who meet Cain find him to be “a gentle man” and himself describes Cain as “delightful and warm” while Kenn Gulliksen extolled Cain’s “love and care.” Grady [What Happened p 116] states, “…several prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal endorse his ministry and vouch for his character.” 70 Wimber, John “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 3, 27-30 71 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125 72 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125 73 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125 74 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126 75 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126 76 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209 77 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125 78 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126 79 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126 80 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209. Jackson has a duplicate footnote reference placing 6 in the text twice. The first one references the immorality charge while the second refers to the fact that Deere was openly sensitive toward Bickle which Jackson sources from Beverley. After checking the Beverley thoroughly, there is no mention of immorality whatsoever with respect to Gruen. Going back to footnote 5 in Jackson is Wimber’s “A Response to Gruen” article in ETS which similarly has no mention of immorality. This is not to make a counterclaim that there was no immorality; this is to illustrate, in fairness, that there’s no substantiation to the claim by Jackson. 81 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Reconciled: Gruen Resigns After Announcement”Charisma. July 1993, Vol. 18 No. 12; p 54. Gruen made his statement on May 24, 1993 claiming, “My sin causing this resignation is not committing adultery, but committing divorce.” 82 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Mend Rift” Charisma & Christian Life. September 1995, Vol. 21 No. 2; p 34 83 Wimber “Response to Gruen” pp 3, 27-30
A Drought Evolves
One of the most common attempts at discrediting the Gruen Document involves the “drought prophecy.” Like Paul Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” was used to validate Cain’s message to Wimber and the Vineyard, Bob Jones’ “drought prophecy” was claimed to legitimize Mike Bickle’s KCF “movement.”
From the opening in the Gruen Document:
For example, Mike regularly retells the story of how the so-called “prophet” Bob Jones predicted [on May 27, 1983] a 3-month drought which would finally end with a “drought-breaker” on August 23.
In telling this tale, Mike makes such statements as, “We watched it day by day…June, no rain…then on August 23, three to four inches of rain!” This is portrayed as God’s confirmation of their “Movement.” It sounded like a pretty impressive miracle until we checked with the National Weather Bureau and the daily newspaper accounts for that timeframe. We found the following:
a. Actual readings from the former Richards Gebaur Air Force base, which is only a few minutes from Kansas City Fellowship, show over seven inches of rain in June, which is well above normal!
b. The “drought-breaker” on August 23 actually produced less than one-third of an inch.
c. Of the 12 days it rained in June, [six] of them produced records of rains heavier than the “drought-breaker.” One day alone had over seven times the rainfall on August 23 – 2.35 inches. (See Section I)
From the beginning this could have never been considered a true prophecy.84
Gruen lays out the specific parameters as set forth in the Bob Jones “prophecy” as gleaned from the earliest recording of this event . This ‘drought’ was to be one of no rain from the time of Jones’ purported proclamation at the end of May until August 23rd at which point there was to be a drought-breaking rain. This is both very well defined and very straightforward.
Even though there was in fact a drought defined as ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ in the late summer of 1983 beginning in July, Gruen’s point was to merely disprove the specific parameters of Jones “prophecy” which proclaimed a ‘no rain whatsoever’ drought to encompass all of June, July and August up through to the August 23rd ‘drought-breaker.’ To do so, all he had to show was that there was rainfall in June thereby negating the drought’s beginning and then show that even though there was rain on August 23rd, the amount was very small, much less than the reported 3 to 4 inches of ‘drought-breaking’ rain as reported by Bickle.
The Gruen Document transcribed two different tapes of this “drought prophecy.” The earliest, from Spring 1986 titled The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries, Volume 2 (a tape series among those on the June 1990 discontinued list), follows. This starts out with Bickle quoting Bob Jones:
‘This is the sign in the heavens, again…For three months there will be a drought in this city.’…The sign is (that) there will be a pattern in the heavens – a weather pattern, and you can’t manipulate weather patterns, so we said, ‘Okay, if it comes to pass, we know the word is true.’…But he says, ‘On August 23, God will send a sign from heaven…’ I said, ‘Bob, I hope this is right.’ Cause it was terrible. June – no rain…August 23, 6:00 at night, it rains, what, 3 to 4 inches of rain…It was a sign in the heavens that no man could have manipulated; it was spoken publicly for all to hear.85
Gruen left out a bit from the audio here (illustrated by the ellipses […]) as, again, his point was to show that the Bickle claim of no rain for the month of June and a pouring rain of 3 to 4 inches on August 23rd were untrue. Thankfully, we also have David Pytches’ Some Said it Thundered (original, unrevised first edition)86 rendition of this “drought prophecy” which corresponds to the Gruen account above while filling in some of the information missing in the ellipses.
Pytches transcribed KCF tapes as he states this in the “Acknowledgements”: “I want to express my appreciation to Kansas City Fellowship for their ready permission for me to quote from their unedited tapes…”87 Unfortunately, Pytches’ work does not provide footnotes and does not include any tape titles or numbers in the list of references in the back of his book. However, it appears as though he paraphrases a bit rather than quoting directly since some of the words don’t exactly match up to Gruen’s even though the basic details do:
“…[T]here will be the total withholding of everything for three months, although God will allow a little bit of liberty.
In this city everything will be withheld. For three months there will be a drought. That’s the sign! God has spoken!…for three months there will be no rain – not until 23 August.”88
Once again, to restate, according to this “prophecy” there was to be no rain at all, not a sprinkle, until August 23. Picking up where we left off:
Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.
This level of prophecy could certainly be nervy! Mike found himself becoming an expert weather watcher…To quote Mike:
“…For the whole month ofJune there was no rain! It was terrible! For the whole month of July there was no rain! It was terrible!
“No rain still during the first week of August or the second or the third. It was terrible! Bob Jones said the Lord had told him it would come on 23 August. We had all been poised since early dawn that day but by 1 p.m. there was still no rain. By six o’clock we were just resigned to wait for another day when suddenly it began. And did it rain? It poured! No man could have manipulated that. It just had to be God!”89
As Pytches’ clearly describes, the claim is that as “an expert weather watcher” Bickle saw not a drop of rain for the entire period of June, July and August until August 23rd at which time “It poured!” Yet when this is compared to actual rainfall as the Gruen Document states, June had above average rainfall for the area with six of those days well exceeding the .32” of rainfall on August 23rd.90 Furthermore, July and August, while having much less than normal rainfall, did indeed have some rain.91 According to National Weather Service archives, actual monthly rainfall in Kansas City in 1983 for the summer and early fall was as follows: June: 6.46”; July: 1.17”; August: 0.97”; September: 1.91”; and, October: 4.15”.92
Apparently, Bickle found out there really was some rainfall during the period of June 1 through August 22 since he revised this “prophecy” a bit as evidenced by the transcription of a recording from May of 1989 titled Overview of Our Prophetic History in the Gruen Document. Bickle backpedals a bit:
Then Bob stands up at the end and he says, ‘I got bad news.’ He says, ‘The Lord told me that there isn’t gonna be a revival being poured out at the end of this 21 days.’ He said, ‘Worse than that, we’re goin’ to the three months of total barrenness. And there’s gonna be a drought upon the city.’ He didn’t say that there would be, you know, not a, not a sprinkle of rain. He said there’d be a drought. He said through the city. And ah, I checked the newspaper once and found out that it rained an inch in the north over the summer. But ah, you know, I’m not sure exactly how much, or somebody did – I can’t remember all the those details, but we watched it day by day and there was a drought through those three months…93
In the earlier account there was the emphatic declaration of no rain yet the later account claims that Bob didn’t say there would be “not a sprinkle of rain.” The first account was three years after this all important prophecy was spoken in 1983, yet in 1989 it seemed they didn’t recall it quite right in the earlier account of 1986. Given that this was purportedly a “word from the Lord,” wouldn’t this have been meticulously recorded? This should have been especially important to write down as this “prophecy” was to confirm the “movement” at KCF.
Bickle “can’t remember all those details” yet he “watched it day by day”? Are we really to believe the “details” of something this important would not be remembered in view of the fact there was so much at stake? And he maintains there was a “drought those three months” including June in which, as stated, there was almost 6.5” of rain with more than a few of those days much more than “a sprinkle.” Continuing:
He (Bob) said, ‘The Lord will break the drought in the natural over Kansas City, and it’s a sign that He will, on an appointed time, break the drought in the Spirit, but not until He appoints the time.’
…And, ah, we’ve had several different theories when that drought was gonna break, but it hadn’t broke yet. And, ah, so, so much for all our theories. But there is an appointed time when the drought breaks in the natural as well as the Spirit. And he said, ‘And here’s the proof that there will, it will break on an appointed day in the natural.’ He said, ‘On August 23, the drought will end and the rains will come to the city.94
Once again, Bickle makes the claim that August 23rd would be the drought-breaker at which time “the drought will end and the rains will come to the city.” Bickle goes on reiterating how no one could humanly predict that it was to rain on a particular day three months later “to break a 3-month drought.” He proclaimed, “It was a supernatural sign to us.”95
Once Wimber/Vineyard took over the reins of Kansas City Fellowship, the “drought prophecy” was analyzed and explained in a much different way. Their claim was that Gruen was wrong in his dogmatic statement: “There was no drought…This prophecy did not happen. It was a total fabrication to promote ‘The Movement.’”96 Unfairly, they left out a very important part of Gruen’s complete statement which follows:
There was no drought. Anyone who went outside or read the newspaper could not have considered June a month of drought. The sprinkle of rain on August 23 was not considered a drought-breaker. This prophecy did not happen; it was a total fabrication to promote “The Movement.” From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true.97
To reiterate, Gruen’s point was that the drought as “prophesied” was stated to have begun right away with the specific claim that June had no rain when in fact the rainfall that month was above normal. Gruen does not deny there was a drought as defined by ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ as he earlier stated, “July and August were below normal in rainfall;”98 however, it would have been better if he had qualified his initial statement with something like “There was no drought as ‘prophesied’ by the specific parameters set by Jones.” Gruen’s conclusion “From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true” is absolutely correct given the heavy rains in June.
The Wimber/Vineyard defense consisted of shifting the “prophecy” to one of very limited rainfall instead of no rain simultaneously moving the start date from June 1 to July 1. In addition, the August 23rd date was changed to merely a date of “prophesied” rain (admitting Bickle’s “mistake” in proclaiming a 3 to 4 inch downpour) instead of the drought-breaker yet no new drought-breaking date was specified claiming merely that the drought ended “in early October.”99 What was the date of the definitive drought-breaking rain?
Among other reasons, Pytches would publish a “new edition” of his book as he “corrected details in the case of one prophecy” which lined up with Wimber’s revised version.100 Using some of the portions already quoted above, we’ll compare the original Pytches rendition with his revised account by listing the ‘uncorrected’ followed by the “corrected” version:
…for three months there will be no rain – not until 23 August.
…there will be rain on August 23.101
…Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.
…Bob had given a specific date for rain during the droughtwhich he predicted was about to begin.102
…For the whole month of June there was no rain! It was terrible! For the whole month of July there was no rain! It was terrible!
The drought did not begin immediately. In fact there was heavy rain in June, but for the whole of July it was dry. It was terrible.103
Pytches continues with the same paragraph ending with “It had to God” as in the original account. Then he continues:
That was still not the end of the drought, however. Although it was not a total withholding of rain, the exceedingly dry period covered a full three months, except for the predicted break on August 23…104
Recall that in the very beginning of the original account – which matches the revised version – are the words, “In this city everything will be withheld.” So, why was this initial verbiage retained? It obviously contradicts with the words above “it was not a total withholding of rain…” And the “predicted break” consisted of a relatively scanty .32 inch which was hardly a break from the “exceedingly dry period” which admittedly contained sprinkles of rain during this time anyway. Pytches, like Wimber, does not specify a “drought-breaker” date.
So, initially in the 1986 version “total barrenness” meant “no rain” (matching Pytches’ original account), in 1989 it was changed to notmean “not a sprinkle of rain” in view of the fact that there was in fact rain in June, which was changed again in 1990 to the drought actually beginning in July since it was further discovered that June had higher rains than normal (matching Pytches’ revised account). Are we to believe that Bickle’s memory is that poor with respect to the “drought prophecy” yet he was certain that May 7, 1983 was the starting point of a 21-day fast which had just ended at which point Jones had purportedly proclaimed this “drought prophecy” and Bickle was certain of other specific dates in KCF’s history as well? Why would he have meticulously recorded these dates and not the beginning and end of the “drought?”
84 Gruen, Documentation. pp 10 / 11-12. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 85 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41-2 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 86 Pytches, David Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression) [unrevised version], Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK 87 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) unnumbered page just before Introduction 88 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 89 89 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 90 90 Interestingly, data recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI), which admittedly is 30 miles north of Grandview, shows that the 22nd was mostly cloudy or overcast beginning at 7am with a trace of rain [.07”] recorded at 1pm with the mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continuing into the 23rd. The next day, on the 23rd, data shows rain beginning around 7am with accumulation of .18” by 8am, another .04” by 9am followed by .04” at 10am. The mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continued into the night. This does not preclude the Bickle account of the 23rd from being true including no rain until 6pm, of course, noting the distance from KCF to the airport. This info was gleaned from Weather Underground <http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KMDT/1983/6/1/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA> by inputting the airport code (MCI) and the applicable dates. As accessed 10/15/11 91 Weather Watcher (see link above) indicates rain at the airport in both July and August. Since the prophecy was for the entire city of Kansas City, rainfall at the airport must be included in any analysis. In Pytches’ account, which appears to be the same as Bickle’s, it’s explicitly stated there was no rain whatsoever until August 23rd. In August prior to the 23rd, the airport recorded .12” on the 7th with traces [less than .1] on the 9th, 15th, 20th and 22nd. 92 These totals are from the Weather Warehouse which takes its data from the National Weather Service <http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_KansasCityDowntownArpt_KansasCity_MO_June.html> As accessed 10/15/11 93 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 53. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 94 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41 / 53-54. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 95 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 54. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 96 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28 97 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 56. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 98 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added. 99 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28. Actual rainfall for October as recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) shows none until the 4th with a mere .21 inch of rain and no further rain until nearly an inch [.93”] fell on the 11th; however, this was followed by no significant rain (there was a trace [.02”] on the 16th) until the 19th with about ¾ inch [.79”] which was followed the next day with ½ inch [.57”] and the next with a bit under ½ inch [.40”]. However, as stated earlier, it’s possible there was more (or less) rain in other parts of KC. 100 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p xxvii. The revised version also omits some verbiage from Cain’s account of the Lord purportedly appearing with him in his car [Pytches (first, unrevised) p 38]. Specifically, the words deleted were describing items Jesus purportedly wore during the incident: “…dressed in a monk’s black habit and wearing a skull cap.” In an August 1990 letter to Prophecy Today subscribers, Clifford Hill states the original Thundered was “at present out of print” although the publishers “intend on reissuing it” in a revised version. Hill also states, “John Wimber told me that he had identified ‘a number of factual errors’ in the book, and Mike Bickle has sent David Pytches a 60 minute tape of corrections.” Keep in mind that Pytches was given access to KCF/GM tapes for the original issue. 101 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 89] is listed first. 102 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first. 103 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first. 104 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first.
Let’s compare this “drought prophecy” to the circumstances surrounding the 1988 “earthquake prophecy.” Jack Deere initially ‘misquoted’ the timing of the second earthquake, however later he recalled “in vivid detail” the ‘facts’ of this “prophecy.” As shown above, Deere had difficulty with details of a “prophecy” of a much more personal nature with both conflicting and added details coming later, so his memory would seem to be questionable. Mike Bickle would also incorrectly record the timing of the second earthquake in his 1996 book Growing in the Prophetic. John Wimber later was unsure whether it was actually predicted or not.
The circumstances surrounding the “drought prophecy” are similarly troubling. Given that the “drought prophecy” was initially one of no rain with very specific parameters including a drought-breaking rain on a specified date, it’s odd that the final Wimber (and/or Deere) version is one of limited rainfall, a different starting date, and no specified drought-breaking end date but instead a rather nebulous “early October” ending. To quote Beverley: “…many of Bob Jones predictions were announced ex post facto”105 – after the fact. Given the evolving nature of the “drought prophecy,” was it among those announced after the fact despite the claim to the contrary?
In each case there is no recorded proof either in written form or in audio to confirm these “prophecies” were given in advance. Given that the “earthquake prophecy” was to validate Cain’s message to the Vineyard and the “drought prophecy” was to provide legitimacy to the KCF “movement,” why weren’t these “prophecies” recorded in such a manner to prove their veracity? Absent any sort of proof, it would be prudent to remain skeptical – especially given the circumstances as outlined above in each of these.
If Cain were to have remained discredited in the Gruen Document, this could cast further doubt on the legitimacy of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” which would in turn cast a long shadow on the Vineyard in general as it was Cain’s message which validated the Vineyard involvement in the “prophetic movement” in the first place. With stakes this high, the pressure to discredit the Gruen Document and to exonerate Cain must have been enormous.
The prophecy movement carries with it the seeds of deception. At worst in the discipleship/shepherding movement some shepherd told you what to do. In the prophecy movement it’s God(?) who tells you what to do.
In context, Buckingham, in the quote above, was speaking of the excesses in personal foretelling prophecies; however, the same could be said for much of the modern so-called “Apostolic/Prophetic” (New Apostolic Reformation aka NAR) movement in general. This would include both the foretelling and the forthtelling varieties, i.e. what some of these “prophets” are claiming God is saying today much of which is at odds with traditional, literal interpretations of Scripture.
Back in the late 1980s Kansas City Fellowship (KCF, aka Grace Ministries) in Kansas City, Missouri, pastored by the young Mike Bickle, was involved in a controversy regarding this new “Prophecy Movement.” This controversy centered around the so-called Kansas City Prophets (KCP) of which Bob Jones, Paul Cain, and John Paul Jackson were the most visible. Ernest J. Gruen, senior pastor of Full Faith Church of Love-West of Shawnee, Kansas, just the other side of the Missouri state line, had growing concerns about the teachings, prophecies, and practices at KCF. After showing concern about these aberrances to Mike Bickle and feeling as though these concerns were not being heeded, Gruen, after prayer, decided to preach his sermon “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing” on January 21, 1990 detailing some of the problems at KCF.
The tape of this January 21 sermon was distributed throughout the US bringing media attention to the Kansas City area. During this time Gruen and some of his staff transcribed tapes distributed by Grace Ministries/KCF and analyzed those as well as teaching materials from KCF/GM resulting in the release of the 233-page Documentation of Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries) [hereafter identified as the “Gruen Document”or “the Document”] in May of 1990. The Gruen Document corrected three mistakes made in the taped sermon of January 21 all having to do with associated details.
Subsequent to this, there have been persistent rumors, speculations and allegations that Ernie Gruen recanted the Document in part or in toto. Is this true? While it is true Gruen conceded portions of the Gruen Document in a letter dated July 1, 1990 some aspects of this statement seem troublingly self-contradictory when compared to the 233-page Document. This raises a number of associated questions. Is this letter real, legitimate? If so, what factors contributed to the release of this statement? If so, were these concessions just honest mistakes or did Gruen fabricate these portions of the Document? Assuming these concessions were made, and given the importance of the Gruen Document, why does this continue to be the subject of rumor and speculation rather than established fact? This article will attempt to answer some of these questions.
This is not an attempt to dredge up the past. This is an attempt to arrive at the whole truth of the matter. Kansas City Fellowship would later become what is now known as the International House of Prayer – more commonly “IHOP” – which is recognized worldwide. Many other similar _HOPs, patterned after the Kansas City model, have been established throughout the US and around the world. In view of this, the history of this movement could be of importance to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, especially since Mike Bickle continues to espouse KCF as part of the IHOP heritage.
Timeline of Events
A timeline of events specifically regarding Gruen and KCF as well as contemporaneous accounts and findings by others regarding KCF and Vineyard (the Association of Vineyard Churches, under John Wimber’s leadership eventually assumed control of KCF) will help in assessing the facts and will shed further light. All dates are from 1990 unless otherwise specified:
– January (inclusive dates unknown): A “massive” two week conference titled “Holiness” is held at John Wimber’s Anaheim Vineyard as mentioned in Bill Jackson’s book The Quest for the Radical Middle, a history of Vineyard. The book does not specifically list the featured speakers. Reportedly, there were 5000 registrants per week.2
– January 21: Ernie Gruen preaches the sermon “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing.” The tape was distributed in the United States and apparently eventually ended up going worldwide. After its release over 40 Kansas City pastors united with Gruen.3
– January 22 (or 29):4 Mike Bickle responds with an open letter. The letter has not been recovered but portions are quoted in other sources:
I am very eager to meet with you to clear up these terrible misunderstandings. I leave the initiative for a meeting in your hands respecting your need to first hear from the Lord in a fresh way. I’d suggest that we call men with national ministries to come and sit with us in order to help us communicate.5
John Wimber, referencing Bickle’s January letter, in an article written after Gruen agreed to stop sending out the Gruen Document states:
Bickle declined to question Gruen’s motives or sincerity, instead claiming that much of Gruen’s accusations were based on a confusion of facts and wrong information.
Bickle took some responsibility for the confusion of facts, saying he should have been more diligent to communicate the nature of KCF’s beliefs and practices to Gruen in earlier talks. He added, “I will not respond to specific issues publicly to avoid further strife and hurt, but will gladly meet with you along with any of your leaders at your convenience.” 6
In an article in the September/October issue of Ministries Today, Lee Grady states this about the Bickle response to Gruen’s tape:
Feeling injured and betrayed, he wrote an open letter to Gruen, denouncing the charges as false and misleading. Most of the specific incidents described on the tape as evidence of KCF’s errors were grossly inaccurate, he said. But Bickle displayed gentility in his response and never once tried to vindicate himself publicly or deny that his ministry had made mistakes. “I open my heart to any correction you have to offer that relates to any of our problems,” he wrote Gruen.7
– March (exact dates unknown): At a conference titled “What the Holy Spirit is Saying to the Church Today” in Sydney, Australia, Wimber/Vineyard were confronted by some locals who wanted Wimber and company to go back home. Jack Deere and Paul Cain were on this trip.8 In April, a very critical report from Philip Jensen’s church – the group that criticized Vineyard – came out in the journal The Briefing.9 Deere would later write about the incident in a 1992 position paper.10
– March 20: Letter is sent to District Superintendents of the Assemblies of God (A/G) by Jewel van der Merwe (now Grewe) as a follow up to an earlier letter (date unknown) listing problems with GM/KCF. In the letter, she relays an account of an individual who moved to Kansas City the previous summer [‘89] as a result of guidance from “one of prophets in Kansas City.” Jewel was in the KC area in October of ’89, contacted the individual and relates, “She told me prophecies had gone out that thousands of pastors would be leaving their churches and moving to Kansas City to be part of what God is doing in the End-time…” When questioned on what authority the individual knew these prophets were of God, the conversation was abruptly ceased by the individual.
This matter has distressed me greatly for the last several months. We have spent hours transcribing tapes from the new prophets. I know that the Assemblies [of God] all over the country are going to be affected by what is happening because of the mass media exposure, massive conferences already planned for the near future and the amount of books and tapes being churned out at a rapid rate.
Listed in the letter are a number of serious errors being taught (from Bob Jones’ tapes/teachings and by extension Mike Bickle who was interviewing Jones on some of these) including the disbelief in a literal anti-christ, the intent to disband denominations including the A/G, the “Elect Generation” (elected seed) doctrine, the practice of the laying on of hands after which the individual “changes radically,” Melchisedek Priesthood teaching [which is taught in Rosicrucianism], disbelief in a literal Rapture, and the claim of power to remit sin. After this list, is the following statement:
…[T]his is just the beginning of the heresy they are teaching. The deity of Jesus Christ is being subtly undermined and replaced with the deification of man.
The letter explicitly identifies the overall teachings of the KCP/KCF as the New Order of the Latter Rain doctrine while pointing out that this was denounced as heresy by the A/G in 1948.11
– March 30: Gruen’s letter to Bickle in response to the January 22 (or 29) letter agreeing to a meeting with “national leaders.”
…I am now convinced that your group does not represent orthodox Christianity; that many of your church’s prophecies are from familiar spirits and actually divination; and that you are very close to becoming a Charismatic heresy and a cult group. The material that we have documented, from your own writings and tapes, has led me to this sad conclusion…
The local Kansas City situation is not the focus now, since we have followed the process and procedures commanded in Matthew 18 precisely through to the third step when we told it to the church [sic]. The message I preached on January 21, 1990, at this point, is no longer relevant. The issue is that you have started a movement that is promoting prophecies throughout the nation that are total fabrications in order to gain credibility for ‘your movement.’ You have done irreparable harm to the [C]hurch in Kansas City, and we do not wish to harm hundreds of thousands of people nationwide…12
Gruen went so far as to suggest twelve men who “would definitely be a fair and responsible group” six of whom he never met and four “only casual acquaintances.” At least one of those listed, Earl Paulk, explicitly taught Latter Rain doctrine including the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) heresy. Obviously, Gruen was not aware of this at the time since he himself denounced MSoG in the Gruen Document. It’s apparent that Gruen was not familiar with some of his chosen group’s doctrines or affiliations. The full list follows:
Roderick Caeser, Jr.
– April 4: Gruen releases “Open Letter to National Leaders” to the Network of Christian Ministries (NCM). This amounted to a request for a “heresy trial” according to Jamie Buckingham which “would have forced that board into the unenviable and dangerous position of an apostolic council – something charismatics have violently opposed in years past.”13
…The purpose of the meeting would not be that Mike and I be reconciled, because we are totally convinced that many of his prophets prophecy by a familiar spirit and that they are a Charismatic heresy. The purpose of the meeting, therefore, would be for you to examine their doctrine and practices, to ascertain whether our conclusions are accurate; if not, we should be corrected. On the other hand, if our conclusions are accurate, equitable, and righteous, then this should be exposed and such action should be taken as you decide…14
In the letter, Gruen promised to have the documentation available by May 31st and to provide a copy to KCF. It is reported that Bickle and Gruen had agreed to a meeting with the NCM which was scheduled for July.15
– April (date of event in dispute): Bill Jackson’s The Quest For the Radical Middle,16 corresponding with John Wimber’s report in his own Equipping the Saints magazine,17 states that Wimber and Cain “had met with Gruen as early as April to try to resolve their differences.” Given that Cain was not specifically mentioned until the Gruen Document which wasn’t released until May, which seems to have provided the catalyst for Cain’s desire for a meeting with Gruen (see below), and that there is specifically mentioned a May 25 meeting consisting of Wimber and Cain with Gruen, it appears this is in error. This is further evidenced by continuing with the account as told by Jackson, “It was then agreed that Wimber’s associate Jack Deere, would meet with Gruen and his staff and consider all the charges.” This agrees with the May 25 account below as recorded by Jamie Buckingham. A May 25 date seems more likely since: 1) it follows the release of the Gruen Document; and, 2) the follow up meeting consisting of Deere with Gruen and his staff on June 12-14 was only about 3 weeks after May 25 rather than 6 or more weeks if this initial meeting was in April instead.
– April 23: Albert James Dager, author and publisher of Media Spotlight founded in 1977, publishes a Special Report titled, “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection” thus predating the Gruen Document. This includes an interview with Mike Bickle, partial transcriptions of GM/KCF tapes (one of which was not referenced in the Gruen Document), and other associated material (some of which were not in the Gruen document).18 Dager would incorporate this Special Report into his book Vengeance is Ours readapting this material by adding other information including bits from the Gruen Document.
Obviously, given Bickle’s interview with Dager, he was aware that Dager was to publish an article further evidenced by the fact that he subsequently sent a letter to Dager19 after GM/KCF came under Wimber/Vineyard (see below).
– May 12: Grace Ministries/Kansas City Fellowship becomes Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship, more commonly Metro Vineyard Fellowship (MVF), after coming under the headship of John Wimber and the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC).20 This was “a surprise announcement,” according to Lee Grady.21 Wimber then wrote to the Network of Christian Ministries apprising them of this change stating it would be best for him to take care of the problems thus side-stepping the possibility of a heresy trial.22
It’s important to note that “[Wimber] and Vineyard Ministries International [had] been the major financial contributors to the Shiloh [Ministries] project” – a part of Grace Ministries – by Fall 1989 or earlier. Shiloh “is a piece of land where various prophets can live together and share their revelations.” Wimber “is credited for a key role as a counselor in helping the team members establish some of Shiloh’s basic principles and practices.”23
– May (specific date unknown) : The 233-page Gruen Document is released. It contains Gruen’s letters of March 30 and April 4 as noted above, letters from other local churches in support of Gruen, testimonial letters reflecting negatively on KCF, transcripts of GM/KCF tapes, excerpts from teaching materials, and explanations as to the problems associated with the GM/KCF material. In the first section of the Document, Gruen concedes three mistakes in his January sermon/tape with respect to the accuracy of specific details of these accounts while affirming their essential truthfulness.24
The Document was apparently released just before, just after, or contemporaneous with the Vineyard assumption of KCF/GM. In a July/August 1990 Ministries Today article, Jamie Buckingham seems to place the release of the Gruen Document after the advent of MVF. After mentioning that KCF submitted to the Vineyard/Wimber leadership and Wimber’s subsequent letter to the NCM thereby averting a heresy trial, he then writes, “Gruen, nevertheless, released a 233-page spiral-bound ‘document’ listing numerous charges…”
Bickle and Cain immediately requested a meeting with Gruen and the board of the National Leadership Conference, which was then in session. In that meeting, Cain said Gruen was not playing “fair” by printing accusations against him without first contacting him. He and Bickle urged Gruen to withhold distribution of the document until Wimber could examine the issues. (It was offered free to all who called Gruen’s church at [phone number].) The NLC board strongly urged Gruen to consider their request. Cain said he was flying to Kansas City and would sit and wait until Gruen talked to him. Gruen refused to withdraw the book, but did agree to a private meeting with Cain and Wimber.25
Note that the National Leadership Conference (NLC) is different from the Network of Christian Ministries (NCM). It seems possible that the NLC would have been more amenable to the Bickle-Cain position as Gruen had already suggested the NCM meet with Gruen and Bickle to review KCF’s doctrines and practices.
Buckingham’s account implies that Gruen defiantly went on with completing and distributing the Document even though Wimber had promised to provide oversight and the NCM agreed to allow Wimber to provide this correction rather than going through with a heresy trial presided by the NCM. However, interestingly, Buckingham was president of the NLC board at the time – an important detail missing from the Ministries Today article above yet mentioned in the 1991 revised edition of David Pytches’ book Some Said it Thundered.26 The mere fact that a modified version of Buckingham’s article27 would appear in Pytches’ (revised) book – a positive view of KCF and the KCP – is troubling enough; however, when coupled with this omission, his objectivity could be called into question.
Compare the bolded portion above with the bolded portion below (The verbiage both directly preceding and following the words in this paragraph below are essentially the same as the above; however, the parenthetical statement about how to obtain a copy of the Gruen Document was deleted since this book was published in 1991, of course.):
…[Cain and Bickle] urged him to withhold distribution of the book until Wimber could examine the issues. As president of the NLC board I called a meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and we strongly urged Gruen – who was an NLC member – to consider their request. Cain said he was flying to Kansas City…28
In a July 1993 Charisma article, J. Lee Grady seems to place the release of the Gruen Document before the transition from KCF to MVF. The subject of the article was that both Bickle and Gruen “asked each other for forgiveness” thus resolving the three years long dispute in the aftermath of the events surrounding the Gruen Document.29 In this piece, Grady mentions Gruen’s taped sermon in one paragraph, in the paragraph following he discusses the 233-page document, and two paragraphs later he states:
Soon after Gruen aired the accusations, Bickle aligned KCF with the Association of Vineyard Churches…30
Given that the January sermon was nearly four months prior to the May 12 transition to MVF, this appears to indicate that Grady’s “soon after” comment did not refer to the tape but rather the Gruen Document instead thereby placing its release just before the May 12, 1990 transition date. Grady’s article in the September/October 1990 Ministries Today, seems to indicate the same thing implicitly in a similar way.31
Jackson’s book also infers that the release of the Gruen Document followed the change from KCF to MVF aligning closer to Grady’s account by mentioning the tape, followed by the Gruen Document, followed by the Vineyard acquisition:
In a surprise move, however, John Wimber stepped in during the month of May to cut off the controversy’s momentum. He announced that Kansas City Fellowship was going to become a part of the Association of Vineyard Churches…32
– May 25: Three hour meeting is held consisting of Gruen and his staff with Wimber and Cain33 on the Friday preceding Memorial Day which reportedly “totally changed the direction of the controversy,” according to Buckingham:34
Gruen, who later called it a “sweet meeting in the Spirit,” opened by saying, “I do not have war in my heart.” Wimber and Cain said they only wanted God’s best. The result was the issuance of a joint statement to all factions saying:
The opposing leaders trust each other’s integrity and spirit.
Vineyard leader Jack Deere, a former Dallas Seminary professor, will oversee a process to examine all the charges.
Wimber and Gruen want to model to the nation a “righteous method” of handling disputes.35
– June (specific date unknown): Tapes are discontinued from the Grace Ministries “Spring Catalog ’90” [see previous article here on CrossWise] including many of the ones transcribed or referenced in the Gruen Document and Dager’s Special Report. All of the Bob Jones material from the original catalog was deleted and much of Paul Cain’s. Following is a complete list of the deleted items with a corresponding letter denoting the tapes’ reference in either the Gruen (G), the Dager (D), or both (B):
Bob Jones Visions and Revelations B
An Interview with Bob Jones B
The Prophetic History of Grace Min. B
Endtime Prophetic Events (J.P. Jackson) G
Personal Testimony (Paul Cain) G
Our Father’s House (Paul Cain) n/a
7 Spirits of God (Paul Cain) G
Joel’s Army (Paul Cain) G
A New Breed (Paul Cain) D
Personal Testimony (Bob Jones) n/a
Rest in His Mercy & Grace (Bob Jones) n/a
Heaven & Hell (Bob Jones) n/a
Shepherd’s Rod Oct. ’89 (Bob Jones) G
An Intercessory Vow (Noel Alexander) n/a
Intercession With Angels (Mike Bickle) n/a
Video-Interview With Bob Jones *
Video-Interview With Paul Cain *
The asterisk is placed next to the Cain video as it contains the personal testimony on the single tape which is also deleted; so, it could be counted by extension with this in mind. Similarly, the asterisk is placed next to the Jones video for the same reason.. As to the others, we erred on the side of caution as the Gruen Document used its own nomenclature making it sometimes difficult to cross-reference with the GM catalog. Also noted is that Dager’s April 23rd article references Noel Alexander’s Intercessory Prayer: Kansas City Fellowship’s Theology, History and Practice.36 It seems plausible that the tape above titled An Intercessory Vow could have overlapping subject matter.
It’s rather curious that GM/KCF would discontinue the series which “is by far our best seller” – The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries – without having one to replace it [see previous post for list of then current tape offerings].
In the Fall 1990 Christian Research Journal it is reported that all the Bob Jones tapes were taken out of circulation as a result of Wimber’s “attempt at correction”:
…limitations on public ministry were placed on Bob Jones…Jones’s controversial tapes have been withdrawn from distribution and his ministry is limited to church leadership “behind closed doors.”37
Bickle later complained that he took the heat for some of the so-called Kansas City Prophets of whom he had no governing authority.38 While this may be true, Bickle certainly had control over whose tapes he would choose to distribute. Selling taped messages of these individuals – especially those taped at KCF – is explicit endorsement; consequently, any criticism leveled against him regarding an individual whose tapes he distributed, especially with regard to the tapes’ contents, is quite fair. Given that a large portion of the Gruen Document was specifically about Bob Jones, whose tapes Bickle had been selling, some of which included Bickle in conversation with Jones, then this criticism is not only fair, it is expressly warranted.
Also of interest is the fact that Jewel van der Merwe (Grewe) of Discernment Ministries released her first Discernment Newsletter in May, and the June newsletter specifically mentions KCF as well as Bob Jones and Paul Cain.39
– June 12-14: Meeting of Jack Deere with Gruen and his staff evaluating the concerns in the Gruen Document.40
– June (likely, though date unknown): 15 points/errors jointly prepared by Vineyard & KCF obviously prior to the June 28 date in which Bickle “repents” of these specific errors. Following is a list of these 15 in their entirety. Note that these items are mostly, if not entirely, reflected explicitly or implicitly in the Gruen Document. The 15 points/errors are preceded by a statement in all capital letters:
ERRORS THAT BOTH KCF AND VINEYARD HAD DISCOVERED PRIOR TO ERNIE’S REPORT AND HAD BEGUN TO CORRECT.
The lack of accountability for prophecies that do not come true or do not bear witness to the person receiving the ministry. The releasing of men to minister publicly in a teaching format who are not qualified as teachers.
The attempt by some prophetic ministers to establish doctrine or practice by revelation alone, apart from clear biblical support.
Dogmatic assertions in delivery of prophetic words.
On several occasions revealing negative prophetic words in public without first confronting the individual.
On several occasions revealing negatives in private without first confronting the individual.
Predictions concerning babies or marriages (except in cases of barrenness).
The conferring of governmental authority or staff positions on the individuals, as well as redirecting staff to different church locations without giving these words to the appropriate levels of leadership.
Giving prophetic words which affect a movement or church without going first to the appropriate levels of authority.
Public predictions of natural disasters, economic events, and divine visitations without the approval of government.
The use of prophetic gifting for controlling purposes.
Using types and allegories to establish doctrine.
Teaching or implying that KCF and Vineyard are an elite group or that we are the leaders of a new elite group about to be revealed by God.
Using jargon that reflects the teaching of groups that we do not wish to be identified with.
Calling John Wimber, or others, apostles and prophets verses (sic) using the terms “apostolic leadership” and “prophetic ministry.”
Manifesting an attitude of superiority through the possession of a secret body of information. Amos 3:7 is true, but the prophetic people are not to wear a garment of pride because of this knowledge.41
– June 28: Jack Deere, Paul Cain and Wimber present their response to the findings in the Gruen Document to Gruen and his staff. According to Wimber, “After several hours of discussion, Gruen agreed to stop his attacks against KCF and Paul Cain” promising to bring no new charges without contacting Wimber first.42
According to a not unbiased article in Charisma & Christian Life,43 later that day, at a KCF-sponsored conference, Wimber made a statement that he had begun to scrutinize the teachings of KCF, purportedly at Bickle’s request, “before Gruen had started his public questioning.”44 Interestingly, the article states, “They [Wimber and Gruen] had found only a couple areas of agreement”45 yet in Wimber’s own Equipping the Saints article he dogmatically declares the Gruen document is wholly untrue:
After reading every line of Pastor Gruen’s document, listening to his tape, and interviewing as many people involved as possible, my staff and I are convinced that the accusations against Kansas City Fellowship and Paul Cain are untrue. I find no evidence that they teach heresy; have an occultic spirit; have unethical practices; promote bizarre, unscriptural experiences; have cultlike tendencies or teachings; or use prophetic gifting to take over churches.46
After Wimber spoke, Bickle made his statement at the conference admitting the errors established in the 15 points/errors (which, as noted above, are essentially indicated in the Gruen Document) and “detailed mistakes made in reporting two prophecies that had been used to establish the legitimacy of KCF” claiming that “both prophecies were fulfilled” but “the later retelling of these fulfillments were exaggerated.”47 Were the “fulfillments” ‘merely’ “exaggerated” or were these “prophecies” actually fulfilled at all? Of the two “prophecies” mentioned in the article, only the drought prophecy is discussed (identified in the Gruen Document as item I.A48) and this will be more completely analyzed in a subsequent article.
Five years later, while maintaining “that most of Gruen’s accusations were untrue,” Bickle would admit, “God was disciplining us for pride and some wrong ideas.” He continued, “If it hadn’t have been Ernie Gruen, God would have used someone else. The message wouldn’t have gotten through to us if it had been kind. It had to be tough. We were wrong.”49 So, which was it? Did “KCF and Vineyard” discover the KCF errors “prior to Ernie’s report,” as the preface to the ‘15 points/errors’ above indicated, or was it Gruen who provided the impetus to change?
The conference referenced above in which Bickle “repented” was the “3rd Annual Grace Ministries Leadership Conference” held from Monday June 25th through Friday the 29th which was advertised in the “Grace Ministries Spring Catalog ’90.” This catalog was most likely released prior to March 1st as the advertisement mentions this date as the beginning point to write for “conference brochure and registration forms.” At the time of publishing, featured speakers were to be John Wimber, Paul Cain, Ralph Mahoney, Bob Jones, and Leonard Ravenhill, with “other speakers” listed as Bickle, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, David Parker, David Ravenhill, “and other Grace Ministries team members.” Presumably, the featured speakers were recognized as “leaders” given the title of the conference. This is noted since Wimber was critical of Jones being in leadership and he stripped Jones of leadership status as part of the “corrections” made upon the KCF transition to MVF. Thus, it is assumed that Jones did not speak at the conference.
– July 1: Gruen sends a summary letter to John Wimber regarding the June 28 meeting. Included is the promise to stop distributing the Gruen Document after July 30.
Also in this letter, Gruen concedes some “points that could be disputed and argued” in the Gruen Document while affirming the “essential accuracy” of the Document. The three concessions are; 1) the use of some testimonies as these “have the possibility of being totally true or…giving disgruntled people an opportunity to express their grievances;” 2) completely exonerating Paul Cain of “any negative charges;” and, 3) the retraction of the story of a baby who died after receiving personal prophecy in his sermon of January 21 as the account has not been documented. Point 2 is the most troubling as this seems to contradict the whole of item VI.H in the Gruen Document. The whole of the contents of this section of the letter will be detailed in the second part of this article with sections discussed in full.
As to the first point, Gruen “is careful not to say that the testimony of a disgruntled person is not true, but only that it could give opportunity to attack one’s ministry,” as noted by Dager.50 Personal testimonies can provide added weight to other evidence; so, testimonies are not to be wholly discounted as Gruen’s statement infers. Gruen’s concession on this point was in part rather than in toto.
In this letter Gruen states
While I do not regret releasing the documentation or preaching the original sermon, I do realize that I have caused pain to many individuals in the body of Christ. I sincerely apologize for any unnecessary pain that I have caused. We at Full Faith do not want to continue to cause pain or hurts. We do not want a war with Vineyard or Kansas City Fellowship…
…[W]e release the entire situation of Kansas City Fellowship into your [Wimber’s] hands. We recognize that it is not now our responsibility to provide either correction or approval of Kansas City Fellowship. We believe that you are sincerely trying to bring the balance and correction that is needed. We also understand that this will involve a process that will take some time. We again wish to express our confidence in you, John, and state publicly that we completely and fully trust in your integrity.
…Ultimately the issue is in God’s hands. His sovereignty is the final court of appeal. He will bring to all of us the balance and correction that we need. Because we believe in the sovereignty of God, we are willing to submit this whole controversy into His hands. We give you permission to copy these pages as a unit, to use in any way you desire.51
Included as an enclosure with this two page letter are the 15 points above. All three pages were to be sent with the Gruen Document to all those receiving the document from that time until July 30 (at which point the Document will no longer be distributed). In addition, all who previously received the Document were to receive this notice.
– July 5: Gruen letter is released to be used as a cover for the July 1 letter and enclosure. The legitimacy of both letters is evidenced by an extant copy of all 4 pages (July 5 letter, two page July 1 letter, plus one page enclosure) with a fax date/time stamp originating at Full Faith Church of Love-West (stamped “Jul-12-90” at 12:37-39).52
Following is the letter in its entirety:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As one of those who has received a copy of the [D]ocumentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship, or is now receiving a copy of our documentation, enclosed is a copy of a letter I sent to John Wimber together with a statement to us from Vineyard Christian Fellowship concerning KCF.
This letter is the result of meetings with John Wimber and other leaders of Vineyard Fellowship, and a subsequent decision made by myself, the other Full Faith Church of Love pastors, and the elders of FFCL West.
KCF has now become part of the Vineyard association of churches. We ask for your continued prayers for all those involved.
Pastor Ernest J. Gruen 53
– July 9: “A Statement from Derek Prince” is released due to persistent questions posed to him regarding KCF. Prince is very critical. He recounts a conversation that he had with Mike Bickle in March of 1990 which is followed by his scathing assessment of KCF/GM:
…At this time I was asked by Mike Bickle to counsel with him and some of his leaders. I spent nearly three hours in discussion with them. I told them that I felt they were receiving and propagating error. Our meeting was conducted in a friendly spirit and ended with prayer, but no conclusion was reached.
Subsequent to this encounter, I studied [the Gruen Document]…It is based mainly on material published by Grace Ministries, or on transcripts of tapes made in Kansas City Fellowship which they themselves circulated.
Very briefly, I can sum up the main conclusions I have reached:
The material circulated by Kansas City Fellowship contains many statements which have no basis in Scripture and are frequently contrary to Scripture. Some of the purported “revelations” could be described as absurd and even blasphemous.
Much of the material is permeated by what I consider to be occult influence.
The overall affect of the material is to divert attention away from Jesus Christ and the Scriptures and toward subjective experiences and human personalities.
The circulation of the material from Kansas City Fellowship has exposed the Body of Christ to much error and confusion.
These errors are deep-rooted and longstanding, dating at least as far back as 1983.
Any effective remedy would require open confession and renunciation of the errors practiced and a radical elimination of the occult element. All this should be communicated as widely as the errors have been circulated. A mere change of label or of leadership, by itself, is not sufficient.54
Prince goes on to stress that it’s the “doctrines and practices” and not the individuals he is judging. He continues:
…We are living in a period when it is more important than ever for all of us to cultivate “the love of the truth.” (See 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.)55
Yes, Derek Prince was part of the “shepherding” controversy; however, his words and advice here are spot on!
– July (specific date unknown): Albert James Dager releases Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion which incorporates and expands on the Special Report released on April 23rd in a chapter titled “Who Are the Apostles and Prophets?”56
In a letter sent out in July to those on Dager’s Media Spotlight mailing list in which Dager announces his book, he also mentions a forthcoming Special Report on Vineyard.57 This report, released in August, contained two articles. One was authored by John Goodwin, a former associate of Wimber at Vineyard, while the other was another update on Dager’s April 23rd Special Report discussing Gruen’s July 1 letter including an analysis on Gruen’s exoneration of Paul Cain.
The Cain exoneration by Gruen will be examined in detail in the second part of this article. And, as noted above, the ‘drought prophecy’ will be fully analyzed as well.
In response to criticism of a leader or teacher within the hyper-charismatic movement, one of the most popular catch-phrases used by followers in their defense is, “Look at the fruit!” [See The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism.] But does this really provide an adequate counter-argument? Let’s see how Scripture speaks on this matter.
The word “fruit,” karpos in the Greek, has a number of different renderings in the NIV including: fruit, crop(s), harvest, benefit, grain, fruitful, and others.1 However, other sources define the term: an effect; work; act; result; yield; and more.2,3 Context will determine intended meaning, of course. With the phrase, “Look at the fruit,” the meaning of “fruit” in this limited context would be “result,” “benefit,” “an effect,” “yield,” etc.
There are three primary areas in Scripture which address “fruit”: 1) “The Fruit of the Spirit” [Galatians 5:16-26], 2) “The Vine and the Branches [John 15:1-17], and 3) “A Tree and its Fruit” in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 7:15-20]. We’ll look at the first one briefly, discuss the second one a bit more, and examine the third even more closely.
The Fruit of the Spirit
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [Galatians 5:16-18; NIV 1984. All Scripture references are from NIV 1984 except as noted]4
The Apostle Paul is admonishing the Galatians to live by the Spirit and leave the bondage of the (Mosaic) law. As F. F. Bruce states, “‘Walk [live] by the Spirit’ means ‘let your conduct be directed by the Spirit’”.5 Paul goes on to list “the acts of the sinful nature” [“acts” is from a different Greek word than karpos] and contrasts those with the fruit of being led of the Spirit:
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5:22-26]
Verses 22 and 23 list the traits of those being led of the Spirit rather than by their sinful nature [vv 19-21, 25-26]. “Fruit” in this context is result or outcome.6 Keeping “in step with the Spirit” [v 25] will result in the outward display of the fruit listed above; whereas, not being directed by the Spirit may be evidenced by the acts of the sinful nature in vv 19-21.
This is not to say that the unregenerate (non-Christian) cannot exhibit some of the same qualities as those listed as the fruit of the Spirit.7 For example, surely the Dalai Lama exhibits some of these traits, at least by outward appearances. Therefore, the appearance of having the fruit of the Spirit does not necessarily guarantee that the individual is truly being led of, and exhibiting the fruit of, the Spirit of God. On the other hand, exhibiting those traits of the sinful nature is a sure sign of not being led of the Spirit whether regenerate or not.
The Vine and the Branches
In the upper room discourse [John 13-17] Jesus, after Judas Iscariot leaves to betray Him, tells the remaining eleven about the Holy Spirit who will come after His Ascension. The Holy Spirit is “another Counselor” [14:16], the “Spirit of truth” [14:17, also 15:16; 16:13] who “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” [14:26]. A bit later, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, he will “testify about me” [15:26]; “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” [16:8] “guide you into all truth” [16:13]; and “speak only what he hears” [16:13]. In the midst of these descriptions of the Holy Spirit’s function Jesus teaches “The Vine and the Branches” [John 15:1-17]:
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bearfruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bearfruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bearfruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear muchfruit showing yourselves to be my disciples. [emphasis added]
Jesus’ words make it clear that to “bear fruit” – i.e., produce positive results/outcomes for the kingdom of God – you must “remain” in Christ, and He will, in turn, remain in you. Further, those who do “bear fruit” will be pruned – afflicted and disciplined resulting in the process of increasing sanctification [see James 1:2-5; Heb 12:4-11; Pro 3:11-12; Ps 94:12] – so they will bear even more fruit. This is similar to the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in the Galatians passage above in that this outward fruit will be the evidence of being “in step with the Spirit.”
In contrast, verse 4 illustrates that you cannot bear fruit apart from abiding in Christ. Verse 6 goes even further: those who do not remain in Christ will be thrown into the fire and burned up! J. C. Ryle comments:
“The consequence of not abiding in Christ, of refusing to live the life of faith in Christ, are here described under a terrible figure. The end of such false professors [of faith in Christ] will be like the end of fruitless and dead branches of a vine…They will finally come to the fire that is never quenched in hell.”8
So, what does it mean to “remain in me” [Jesus]? The apostle John continues Jesus’ words:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bearfruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. [emphasis added]
To remain in Jesus is to remain in His love. To remain in Christ’s love is to have His words remain in you [v 7] so that you may “obey His commands” [v 10]. And, to “obey His commands” is to lay down your life [v 13], “take up your cross daily” [Luke 9:23]. F.F. Bruce states, “…the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, and of Jesus and His disciples, and of the disciples with their heavenly Father as his children, is a mutuality of love, a love in which obedience is a spontaneous joy and not a painful duty.…”9 Note that ‘love’ is the first attribute listed in the “fruit of the Spirit.” The way to be in His love is to know His word, His commands, as revealed in the Scriptures. This is not unlike Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32:
31 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Quoting Bruce once again, “To ‘remain’ in Jesus’ ‘word’ is to adhere to his teaching – to direct their lives by it….discipleship is something continuous; it is a way of life. A true disciple has an affinity for his teacher’s instruction and accepts it, not blindly but intelligently….”10
A Tree and its Fruit
In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records Jesus’ words of “wolves in sheep’s clothes” equating these to bad trees bearing bad fruit [7:15-20]. To understand the larger meaning of this passage it’s best to put this teaching in its full context by reading the verses immediately preceding and immediately following. Here’s the section identified in the NIV as “The Narrow and Wide Gates”:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Matthew 7:13-14]
Of the various “I am” statements in the Gospel of John including, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” [11:25] is this one: “I am the Gate for the sheep” [10:7; 10:9]. Jesus is the “Gate” – the “narrow Gate.” He is the one who “leads to life.” “Only a few find it” while many do not. This brief two verse passage sets the stage for the teaching that follows, “A Tree and its Fruit,” which provides a warning about those who seem to be in the faith yet are not. These are some of those who lead down that broad road through the wide gate to death [John 10:10]:
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears goodfruit, but a bad tree bears badfruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear badfruit, and a bad tree cannot bear goodfruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear goodfruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. [Matthew 7:15-20]
The term “false prophets” here is to be understood in a broad sense11, i.e., not merely indicating those who fail in the foretelling of future events, but also including all who claim to speak on divine authority yet, in actuality, do not [see also Mat 24:11,24; Mark 13:22; Jer 23:9-40]. Verses 16 and 20 show that it’s the fruit, the results, which expose these false prophets for who they are. Notice the similarity between verse 19 and John 15:6 above in the “The Vine and the Branches” teaching.
While the wolf as natural enemy to the sheep is a well used motif, the phrase wolves “in sheep’s clothing” is unique in the literature of the time.12 Obviously, these wolves come with the intent to deceive and then devour. Since they “come to you” [v 15] this appears to be indicative of travelling missionaries13 which sounds not unlike those nowadays who are frequently putting on various conferences worldwide and peddling their wares to the unwary. This would also seem to include televangelists. Of course, this is not to say that all missionaries or those who preach on TV are false prophets.
Matthew Henry believed the fruit referred to in vv 16 and 20 could be both: 1) the “fruits of their persons,”14 such as the acts/traits listed in Galatians 5:19-21 as well as Philippians 3:18-19; and, 2) the “fruits of their doctrine”.15
“If the doctrine be of God, it will tend to promote serious piety, humility, charity, holiness, and love with other Christian graces; but, if [to] the contrary…we may conclude that ‘this persuasion comes not of him that calleth us’[Gal 5:8, KJV]…” 16
Donald Hagner, in his 1993 commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, states:
“…The ultimate test of the truth is in deeds, not claims or pretensions. The Church must be ever vigilant against appearances and empty words and press the criterion of good works in discerning the true from the false.”17
The NIV Study Bible includes verses 21-23 under the heading titled “A Tree and its Fruit” as does the NASB. This would seem to indicate that these editors understand these three verses to conclude this particular section. However, some other versions differentiate verses 21 through 23 from 15 through 20 by a separate heading.
The NKJV titles this three verse subsection “I Never Knew You.” Rudolf Schnackenburg’s The Gospel of Matthew titles this portion “Concerning Self-Deception”18 although he apparently considers verses 13-29 all of a piece titling this section of his commentary “Concluding Admonitions”19 and thus a conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount which began in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel with the Beatitudes. Perhaps the most descriptive comes from Hagner who titles this subsection: “The Insufficiency of the Charismata”.20 And, similar to Schnackenburg, Hagner groups verses 13 through 27 as simply “Conclusion”.21
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ [Matthew 7:21-23]
These are some of the most sobering words in all of Scripture. Surely, not many, if any, would want to be referred to as “evildoers” by Jesus Himself on Judgment Day and be told, “I never knew you. Away from Me…” Perhaps worse yet are the Apostle Paul’s words stating that God Himself will send a “powerful delusion” to those who “refuse to love the truth” by following and participating in “counterfeit signs and wonders” [II Thessalonians 2:9-12] so that they will continue in their deception and thus be condemned.
In the larger context of verses 15 through 23, the “Insufficiency of the Charismata”22 subsection seems to be explaining aspects of, and resulting fruit from, the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ [v 15]. The charismatic demonstrations from these ‘wolves’ will be for naught resulting in eternal damnation instead of redemption. Apparently, the prophecies, exorcisms, and many miracles [v 22] were not done according to the will of God [v 21].
While this section may not be describing all the characteristics of ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing,’ note the word “prophesy” (again, to be understood in its broad application) in verse 21 which correlates to the “false prophets” of verse 15 and the word many, — not some or few, but many – which begins the list of the charismata in verse 22. Also, compare many in verse 13 to the many of verse 22.
The next section, titled “The Wise and Foolish Builders” in the NIV, both concludes the previous section and at the same time concludes the Sermon on the Mount:
24 “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. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Taken together, this final section and the two verses which make up “The Narrow and Wide Gates,” provide bookends to the “Tree and its Fruit” [including vv 21-23] passage. The former section explains that there are only two ways: the way to life which is narrow compared to the broad road which leads to death. The final section contrasts those who built wisely upon the rock, i.e., Jesus Christ, with the foolish who built on sand. Both of these parables demonstrate that it’s the truth of the Scriptures which provides the way to life and this truth is found by abiding in Jesus Christ, His Word, and the Holy Spirit [John 15:1-17, Galatians 5:16-26] in order to do His Father’s will. And, in between these two parables is an illustration of the consequences of being outside His will and, therefore, not in the truth – the broad and foolish road to death.
Inspecting the ‘Fruit’ of the phrase “Look at the Fruit!”
This short phrase, “Look at the fruit!” uttered in defense of the criticisms levied against hyper-charismatic leaders can either be interpreted as a request to look at the character of, or the results from, the leader(s) being defended. As to character: as noted above, the outward appearance of the “fruit of the Spirit” does not necessarily indicate being led of the Spirit. However, acts of the flesh are a sure sign of being led by the sinful nature. It appears, though, that a defense of character, the ‘evidence’ of “the fruit of Spirit,” is the least likely meaning behind the use of this phrase.
There have been quite a few leaders in the hyper-charismatic movement who have ‘fallen from grace’ over the years. In fact, it’s usually the so-called “good fruit” of works predominately of the “signs and wonders” variety which are of dubious authenticity that are used to justify or override the sinful behavior of those who’ve ‘fallen from grace.’ Supposedly, because these individuals are “so used of God” they are that much more subject to the devil’s snare.
However, according to Scripture, to “bear fruit” is to show results for the kingdom of God. To accomplish this, one must remain in Jesus Christ’s teaching in order to do the Father’s will. How is this done? As outlined above: by taking up one’s cross daily, to die for the One who calls you ‘friend,’ our Lord Jesus Christ. It is accomplished by following His precepts, the truths of Scripture. Is this the intended meaning behind “Look at the fruit!?” It would not appear so.
Most, if not all, hyper-charismatic leaders adhere to some aspects in their teachings and/or practices that are clearly at odds with historical orthodox Christianity. Biblical truths are, in fact, many times superseded by “present truths” – new revelations. This then would be an indication that these leaders are not abiding in Christ and hence not capable of bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God.
The large majority of the time the phrase “Look at the fruit!” is used to defend the “fruit” of prophecy (mostly of the foretelling variety which has a very low percentage of accuracy), healings, exorcisms, raisings from the dead, etc. Many of the so-called “prophecies” are mentioned after the fact with no proof that an actual prophetic word was uttered prior to the incident in question. The healings are rarely, if ever, verified; the ‘dead raisings,’ never.
Apparently, it’s the fruit of aberrant teachings from these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ which lead to the fruit of aberrant practices resulting in the fruit of the “ministries” of hyper-charismatic leaders. In light of Matthew 7:21-23, this is bad fruit indeed!
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ [Matthew 7:21-23; emphasis added]
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ [Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV; emphasis added]
1Goodrick, E. W. & J. R. Kohlenberger III. NIV Exhaustive Concordance. 1990; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 1737 2Thayer, J. H. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1979 (20th Zondervan printing); Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 326 3Bauer, W., W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 1958, 2nd edition; Chicago, Chicago, IL; pp 404-405. Also known as “BAGD.” 4Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 5Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC. 1982, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 243 6Bauer, p 404 7Bruce, p 255-256 8Ryle, J. C. “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 13:1-21:25” Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume Four: John 10:31 – 21:25. 2007 (1878), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 102. Originally part of a seven volume series with one each of Matthew and Mark, two of Luke (1-10 & 11-24), and three of John (1-6:70; 7-12:50; 13:1-21:35) beginning in 1856 and completed in 1878. Available also at < http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/ > 9Bruce, F. F. The Gospel & Epistles of John. 1983, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 310 10Bruce, p 196 11Hagner, Donald A. Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1 – 13. 1993, Word, Dallas, TX; p 183, 187 12Schnackenburg, R. The Gospel of Matthew. 2002, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 78 13ibid. 14Henry, M. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 5. 1991 (8th printing 2006), Hendrickson, USA; p 77. 15ibid. 16ibid. 17Hagner, p 184 18Schnackenburg, p 78 19Schnackenburg, p 76 20Hagner, p 184 21Hagner, p 177 22ibid.
[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.”
“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.”
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.