Casting Out Demons, Miracles and the Real Test for a Prophet

October 30, 2006

The Exorcism Can Christians cast out demons, prophesy and perform miracles in Jesus’ name? Yes. Can false prophets cast out demons, prophesy and perform miracles in Jesus’ name? Yes.

Since the Bible teaches both these realities, we can’t automatically assume that someone who does a supernatural feat in the name of Jesus is from God.

The only sure test we have for these people is their teaching. What teachings accompany their ministries? Are they sound teachings that come from the Bible? Or are they unbiblical teachings that have another source?

The Bible gives us this test in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, where it says that if a prophet gives an accurate prophecy or performs a miracle, but he encourages his followers to worship another God, then he is a false prophet. The apostle John tells us that there are many false prophets, so we must test their teachings (1 John 4:1-3). We are also told in Matthew 7:21-23 that many people will not enter heaven — even though they called Jesus “Lord” and cast out demons, prophesied and performed many miracles in Jesus’ name. In Revelation 13:11-15 and 19:20, we are told that, in the end times, the False Prophet will perform mighty miracles that will deceive many people into following the Antichrist.

Chuck Pierce headshot So, now, let’s apply this test to some of the “prophets” in the apostolic-prophetic movement. How about Chuck Pierce (pictured here)? I chose him because he is a key player in movement. Pierce is the vice president of Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colo. (C. Peter Wagner’s organization), and he’s the president of Glory of Zion International Ministries in Denton, Texas (both are apostolic-prophetic ministries). He’s also on the executive boards of the International Coalition of Apostles (a network for apostles) and the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (a network for prophets).

Pierce claims to be a prophet. According to his Glory of Zion Web site, he is “known for his accurate prophetic gifting which helps direct nations, cities, churches and individuals in understanding the times and seasons we live in.” The book Understanding the Fivefold Ministry (Charisma House, 2005) — endorsed by Jack Hayford — holds up Pierce as a true prophet of God and states that he accurately prophesied Saddam Hussein’s capture a week before he was captured.

Right now, we won’t focus on the fact that Pierce, himself, has admitted that he has given inaccurate prophecies in the past (which would disqualify him as a true prophet of God, according to Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Instead, we will focus on his teachings. When we do, we will discover that his ministry is built on the promotion of teachings that have no basis in the Bible and that contradict the Bible. Let’s briefly consider some of those teachings.

First, let’s look at his ministry’s doctrinal statement on his Web site. Notice how it doesn’t even address essential Christian teachings, like the Trinity and Jesus’ death and resurrection. Of course — from this sparse doctrinal statement — we can’t conclude that he doesn’t believe in these essential doctrines. But we can see that he doesn’t seem to emphasize them. One may rightly wonder why doctrines that are so crucial aren’t included here?

Side note: I am sometimes contacted by people who want to know if so-and-so is a false prophet. The first thing I often do when researching Christian teachers is look at their ministries’ doctrinal statements. If they don’t affirm essential Christian doctrines, then there may be cause for concern. However, even if their doctrinal statements are orthodox, that doesn’t necessarily mean the teachers are. I’ve found that many false teachers have orthodox doctrinal statements, but what they teach at their conferences and write in their books is anything but orthodox.

Now, let’s go to a second step in evaluating Chuck Pierce’s claim to be a prophet. Let’s look at his writings. In his book The Future War of the Church (Regal Books, 2001), Pierce claims God gave him a vision of the end times that shows that God is establishing a new government for the church. This government is led by apostles (with great authority) and prophets (with new revelation). Their goal is to form an end-times army to establish God’s kingdom on earth before Christ returns. Pierce compares the current church to a prison that Christians need to be freed from (and the church leaders, by implication, are compared to prison wards). He says, soon, all church leaders will have to submit to these new apostles and prophets.

Pierce’s teachings are consistent with those of the apostolic-prophetic movement and the Latter Rain movement of the 1940s (which was declared heretical by most evangelicals). In his book, Pierce directly ties his teachings to the apostolic-prophetic movement, stating on page 35: “I have come to believe that this new Church structure, the Church of the Future, is what C. Peter Wagner has termed the New Apostolic Reformation” (another name for the movement). Interestingly, this book is endorsed on the back cover by Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals — yet, Haggard denied any involvement in the movement during a 2005 radio interview aired on “Issues, Etc.” in St. Louis, Mo. Listen to the interview here (at the end of the interview). Windows Media Version or MP3 audio

Yet, nowhere in the Bible do we see a great end-times army led by apostles and prophets with unquestioned authority and new revelation. In fact, we are warned about false teachers who seek to take the place of the original apostles and lord it over us (Galatians 4:17). We are also told to test all teachings by comparing them to the teachings of the original prophets and apostles as recorded in the Bible (2 Peter 1:19, 3:2 and 2 Timothy 1:13, 3:14-17). If their teachings deviate, then we are told to reject them. We are also told that Scripture contains everything we need to lead the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Furthermore, the Bible teaches in Revelation (and in other prophetic passages) that Christ must return to earth to establish His kingdom Himself. Christians won’t establish it before He returns.

All Pierce’s teachings add up to significant departures from orthodox Christianity. Yet, Pierce has dedicated his ministry to them. Similarly to the founders of Christian cults — like Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism — Pierce argues that Scripture is not sufficient for us, but that we need new doctrinal revelation from new prophets (like himself) for victory in these last days.

So, if Pierce gives a prophecy that is fulfilled, then does that make him a true prophet? No.

Other people who claim to be prophets — or miracle workers or whatever — can be tested in the same way.


Is Jesus a False Prophet?

October 23, 2006

A few days ago, I received a comment on my blog that took the wind out of my sails. I never thought I’d hear someone who, presumably, claims to be a Christian, say what this person said. In seeking to defend “prophet” Kim Clement, this person made an argument that I found alarming.

First, some background. On Oct. 9, I posted about Kim Clement, a leading “prophet” in the apostolic-prophetic movement. I gave examples of Clement’s blatantly false prophecies and his attempts to cover them up. I also pointed out some of the unbiblical teachings in those prophecies, like his prophecy that aborted babies are going to be reborn to other women (this, of course, would require reincarnation).

When I wrote about Clement, I thought he would be a good example of an obviously false prophet that everyone could agree with. I was wrong.

In the comments, one person defended Clement and other modern-day “prophets” who give false prophecies, saying that it’s not their fault. Why? Because even all of Jesus’ prophecies aren’t fulfilled. (Yes, you read that correctly. According to this person, even Jesus gives false prophecies.)

The commenter went on to say: “If all of God’s words do not come to pass, I think NO ONE will have a record of accuracy as you demand.”

The Scripture the person used to support his or her argument is Mark 4:3-20 — Jesus’ parable of the sower and the different types of soil. The commenter interpreted the seed that was sown as prophecies. Prophecies that are sown in bad soil will fail, even if they are God’s prophecies, according to this person. So, God can say that He would like for something to happen, but it is up to the person who receives the prophecy to respond in the right way to make sure it happens.

Where this person came up with this interpretation of Mark 4, I don’t know. Typically, Christians have understood this passage as explaining why some people respond to the gospel and others don’t.

The context of the Mark passage shows that it has nothing to do with modern prophetic words. The Gospel of Mark seeks to show that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, and this passage fits into that larger context — showing why some people accept that message and others don’t.

Contrary to the commenter’s claim, we find, throughout the Bible, that all of God’s words come to pass. They never fail. That separates Him from false gods. See Isaiah 46:10, for example:

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.”

Also, in Numbers we find the false prophet Balaam addressing this very issue (which shows that even wicked, false prophets are sometimes used by God). Balaam tells Balak, the king of Moab, that God’s words have full integrity — God can’t promise something and then not deliver. What’s more, not even Balaam’s disobedience to God can change God’s words.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.” Numbers 23:19-20

When God says something will happen, then it will happen. Period. It won’t fail because people do. That’s because God is all powerful, and He can see the beginning and the end (He knows all future variables, even human failings). In contrast, the Bible says that false prophets give prophecies that don’t come to pass. See Deuteronomy 18:20-22

It discourages me to see someone who wants to defend Clement’s reputation so much that he or she is willing to disparage God’s reputation (including His power and omniscience) to do so. Unfortunately, this is a growing trend in the apostolic-prophetic movement, as I will seek to show in future posts.


Magic Charms and Spells

October 17, 2006

I’ve noticed a growing trend in the apostolic-prophetic movement toward magic charms and spells — objects and phrases that supposedly give those who use them supernatural power.

property-dedication-kit.jpg One example: On Oct. 1, the Elijah List sent an e-mail advertising a book, titled Portals to Cleansing by Henry Malone, to help Christians learn how to cleanse their houses and property from curses. Malone also sells a “Portals to Cleansing Property Dedication Kit” (pictured here). See the full ads.

The kit includes instructions, scriptures, anointing oil and stakes to drive into your property.

Steve Shultz, the publisher of the Elijah List, promises his readers: “Use it and make the enemy flee!” Shultz said he’s cleansed his own property three or four times, in the past six years, and each times he’s seen “a noticeable change in the atmosphere and circumstances.” Shultz added: “If you don’t believe those curses have power, you’d be hard-pressed to explain certain sicknesses, diseases, and even death that comes upon very anointed and pure-hearted people you know.”

Then, on Oct. 16, the Elijah List published a testimonial from a reader, named Tom Panich, who used the book to cleanse his property. Panich wrote:

Recently, I finished Dr. Henry Malone’s book, Portals to Cleansing. I actually used 3-foot, scripturally-endorsed stakes to stake our property. I utilized the scriptures found in the book, Protecting Your Home from Spiritual Darkness by Chuck D. Pierce and Rebecca Wagner Sytsema. I also poured our “Third Heaven Vision” anointing oil over the top of the stakes. After I drove the first stake into the ground, I felt the Presence of the Lord come across the yard, hit me, and then I almost fell over. It really surprised me! These spiritual, prophetic acts actually have awesome and powerful effects. Try it.” Read the testimonial.

Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil For the record, “Third Heaven Vision” anointing oil (pictured here) is another product advertised by the Elijah List, that, “coincidentally,” is sold by Tom Panich. Learn more about the oil. Panich claims it will give users visions of the Third Heaven.

It’s troubling that Christians are devolving to a magical worldview that has more in common with occultism than biblical Christianity. It’s equally troubling that people — like Steve Shultz, Tom Panich and Henry Malone — in the name of Christianity — are seeking to profit from these magic charms and spells.


Kim Clement, a Prophet?

October 9, 2006

Kim Clement One of the most troubling aspects of the apostolic-prophetic movement is its “prophets.”

Yesterday, the Elijah List (which sends out the movement’s prophecies, daily, to over 133,000 subscribers) sent out this prophecy from “prophet” Kim Clement. Read the prophecy here.

Every time the Elijah List sends out another prophecy from Clement (which is fairly often), I think “Gimmee a break!” How many more prophecies does this guy have to get wrong before he is considered a false prophet? And how many prophecies that directly contradict the Bible does he have to give? Many of his other prophecies are so vaguely worded that their “fulfillments” could apply to almost anything (like much of the one I linked to above). Read it, and see what I mean. Yet, Clement — like so many “prophets” in this movement — always finds some way to “explain away” his failed prophecies or to force “fulfillments” to fit them.

Let’s take a look at one of Clement’s failed prophecies. In Utica, New York, on Jan. 10, 2004 — and then two days later televised on TBN, Jan. 12, 2004 — Clement prophesied that Osama Bin Laden would be captured within 35 days and that, as a result, Easter 2004 would be one of the greatest Easters for America. He also prophesied that March 11, 2004, would mark the beginning of the end of terrorist activities. Read his prophecies here, from the Elijah List.

When 35 days passed and Bin Laden wasn’t captured, Steve Shultz, the publisher of the Elijah List, contacted Clement for a response. Shultz was pleased with Clement’s response, calling it a “very mature response” that should “both encourage and train” the Elijah List readers on how to discern prophecy. (It’s disturbing that Shultz was satisfied with Clement’s response. It shows that Shultz can’t properly discern prophecies.) Read Shultz’s comments and Clement’s response here. In short, Clement responded that he never said the 35-day time period would begin on Jan. 10 or Jan. 12 (although he, conveniently, waited until after the prophecy failed to come to pass to make this clarification). Then he suggested that Bin Laden’s capture would occur, instead, by March 11, 2004, or Easter 2004.

Well, March 11 came and went — and still no Bin Laden. But something significant did happen on March 11 — the Madrid bombing of four commuter trains in Spain, that killed 191 people and injured over 1,700. This attack was a major victory for terrorists — quite the opposite of Clement’s prophecy.

Then Easter passed and Bin Laden, of course, hadn’t been captured. Yet, Clement still defended his prophecy in another e-mail released by the Elijah list, saying that people, including himself, mistakenly interpreted God’s statement “bring out your greatest enemy,” to mean “capture.” Instead, he said, the prophecy should have been interpreted as saying that, during Easter, God would begin to expose something that would reveal Bin Laden’s hiding place. He said:

For a time, I too felt that over Easter we would see the capture of bin Laden, however, when I read the prophetic word that I had given, I understood that it meant “revealing his whereabouts,” and this would bring him out. This could be the beginning of the 35-day period.

“Prophet” Bob Jones also came to Clement’s defense, saying that the March 11 date had some kind of prophetic significance in “Heaven’s timetable” (whatever that means!) Read Jones’ and Clement’s defense of the failed prophecy here.

So, to review, Clement prophesied that Bin Laden would be captured in 35 days, and then changed the date of the capture to Easter, then — after Easter passed — he said Bin Laden’s whereabouts had started to be exposed and that he may be found in the 35 days following Easter. Yet, over two years later, Bin Laden remains in hiding.

This is just one example of a failed Clement prophecy. He also prophesied that a cure for AIDS would be found by 2002. I could go on and on. Do an Internet search to learn more of them.

Clement has also prophesied things that directly contradict Scripture. For example, when I heard him speak at Regency Christian Center International in Whittier, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2005, he prophesied that aborted babies were going to start to be reborn to other women. (The reincarnation of aborted babies, of course, goes against the Bible’s teaching.) Read the prophecy here.

And, in yesterday’s prophecy (which I linked to above), Clement quoted God telling Clement and his followers, “I want you to command Me” [in essence, command God to bless them]. This is a scary teaching. What in the world is Clement doing, telling Christians that they are supposed to boss God around? This teaching, of course, is not supported by Scripture.

Furthermore, Clement’s prophecies and teachings don’t point attention to Jesus or His gospel. Read through some of them yourself to see. At his meeting I attended in Whittier last September, Clement rarely mentioned Jesus’ name. But a major focus of his meeting was to urge the attendees to give finances and support to the modern prophets (which, of course, included himself) in order to receive rewards from God. Clement equated Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, with modern prophets, like himself (though, he didn’t advocate stoning modern “prophets” whose prophecies fail, as the Old Testament prophets would have been). He also kept shouting “the prophets are coming,” receiving cheers from the attendees.

The fact that the Elijah List keeps releasing prophecies from Clement — and other equally troubling “prophets” like Bob Jones (whom I will discuss more later) — shows that it disregards the biblical criteria for detecting false prophets. Yet, for some reason, the number of subscribers to the Elijah List keeps growing. (The Elijah List also recently started a magazine, called The Voice of the Prophetic.) I plan to follow the Elijah List’s prophecies in future posts.


Finally, a Response

October 2, 2006

Finally, a reader has attempted to provide a biblical basis for the apostolic-prophetic movement, per my request in my post Sept. 27.

Here was my original question:

“Where, in the Bible, is there any concept of an end-times army of Christians — led by apostles (with great authority) and prophets (with new revelation) — that will subdue God’s enemies and establish His kingdom on earth?”

Under the comments, one poster said:

My guess is that event that you speak of is based on the following verses:

Jude 1:14-15 [14] Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, [15] to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

While I appreciate this poster’s desire to provide a biblical basis for the movement, I don’t see how he got the apostolic-prophetic movement from this passage. The context of this passage — and the entire book of Jude — is a warning to Christians about false teachers who had slipped into the church. Jude was urging Christians to contend for the faith that had already been revealed — not to embrace the new teachings of these false teachers. Verses 14 and 15 speak of the false teachers’ coming judgment, by Jesus together with his “holy ones.” Some commentators have suggested that the “holy ones” are angels, and others have suggested that they are Christians. Read Jude here.

Other Scripture passages refer to Jesus’ second coming to judge the ungodly with the help of the angels, like 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 13:40-42 and Mark 8:38.

Whether the holy ones are angels or saints isn’t the important point here. The important point is that the Jude 1:14-15 passage is referring to Jesus’ judgment at His second coming. It, in no way, supports the apostolic-prophetic movement. Of course, there is Scripture that shows that Christians will have a part in the final judgment (for example, see 1 Corinthians 6:3) — but that’s when Christ returns, not before. Yet, advocates of this movement often define their current roles by quoting passages that speak of Jesus’ second coming and the millennium.

It’s ironic that the book of Jude, which was written to urge Christians to hold to the faith that has already been delivered to the saints, is being used by supporters of the apostolic-prophetic movement to promote new teachings and new revelation — the very thing the book was warning about.