This is my third post examining Rick Joyner’s teachings in his popular book The Final Quest, which records a series of visions Joyner claims God gave him. In this post, I will look at a conversation Joyner — who claims to be a modern “apostle” and “prophet” — records between himself and the apostle Paul during a trip Joyner claims to have taken to heaven. The conversation should raise several red flags, which I will point out below.
But, first, I need to point out that Christians should view conversations with dead people with suspicion since the Bible forbids “necromancy” (the practice of communicating with dead people). Deuteronomy 18:10-11 and Isaiah 8:19-20 So, the very premise of Joyner’s book — which records his conversations with several dead Christians — should raise a legitimate question of whether he is guilty of practicing necromancy or not. That issue aside, I will now raise other concerns about the specific content of the conversation Joyner claims he had with the apostle Paul.
I’ll start with some background. Joyner says he is walking through heaven when he runs into Paul seated on a throne. Joyner tells Paul that he is honored to meet him. But Paul tells Joyner that the honor is his since Joyner is one of the soldiers in the “last battle” (the last-days battle between God and Satan). Then Paul confesses to Joyner that he didn’t accomplish all God wanted him to do during his time on earth, saying, “I fell short of all that I was called to do” (see pages 131-133 of Joyner’s book). Paul then adds:
“By the grace of God I was able to finish my course, but I still did not walk in all that I was called to do. I fell short of the highest purposes that I could have walked in. … I had been given so much to understand, and I walked in so little of it” (page 132).
Red Flag 1: Joyner claims Paul confessed that he failed to complete his apostolic ministry.
I think Joyner is really going out on a limb to say that the apostle Paul confessed that he had fallen short of God’s call on his life. The Bible — including Paul’s own writings — gives no indication of this. Quite the opposite, at the end of his ministry Paul wrote: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Since the Bible gives no indication that Paul fell short, apparently Joyner expects us to take his word on this — based only on his alleged conversation with Paul.
Red Flag 2: Joyner twists Paul’s words.
Joyner also says that Paul claimed — at the end of his life — to be “the greatest of sinners” (pages 132-133).
Paul did, of course, call himself the chief of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15, but he wasn’t referring to his present status at the end of his life. If one reads that verse in context, it’s clear that Paul was referring to the time before he was saved, when he was guilty of persecuting Christians and blaspheming Christ. Read the context here: 1 Timothy 1:12-16. Yet, Joyner claims that Paul was speaking about the present, not past. Joyner says:
“I was being honest when I wrote near the end of my life that I was the greatest of sinners. I was not saying that I had been the greatest of sinners, but that I was the greatest of sinners then” (page 132).
I don’t understand why Joyner would twist Paul’s words like this — whether he does it intentionally or whether Joyner really doesn’t know how to read the Bible in context.
Red Flag 3: Joyner claims Paul confessed to being prideful.
Joyner claims Paul told him that, as an apostle, he started off being prideful, but grew humble (page 133). Joyner says Paul pointed to his own New Testament writings as evidence of this transition from pride to humility — saying that, at the start of Paul’s ministry, he claimed to be equal to the most eminent apostles, then Paul claimed that he was the least of the apostles, then he claimed to be the least of the saints and then, finally, he claimed to be the greatest of sinners.
But Joyner quotes these four verses out of context. When Paul said he was equal to the most eminent apostles in 2 Corinthians 11:5, he was defending himself against false apostles who were challenging his apostleship. When Paul said he was the least of the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15:9, he was saying that, apart from God’s grace, he didn’t deserve to be an apostle because of his former role persecuting Christians. When Paul said he was the least of the saints in Ephesians 3:8, he was again acknowledging his former life of persecuting Christians. And when he said he was the greatest of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15, he was referring also to the time before he was saved. Each of these statements was referring to different things. So, Joyner’s claim that Paul was admitting to pride — based on these verses — is off-base.
Not only does Joyner quote these verses out of context, but he also has his biblical timeline wrong. 2 Corinthians was written after 1 Corinthians, which means Paul said he was the least of the apostles before he said he was equal to the eminent apostles — not after — disproving Joyner’s claim that these verses indicate a progression in Paul’s humility.
Red Flag 4: Joyner claims Paul told him that Paul’s teachings aren’t part of the church’s foundation.
Joyner says Paul told him that many Christians are distorting Paul’s letters in the New Testament by misusing his teachings as part of the doctrinal foundation of the church. Only the Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) can be used as the doctrinal foundation, according to Joyner, because the Gospels are based directly on the teachings of Christ. Joyner quotes Paul saying, “His [Jesus’] words are the foundation. I have only built upon them by elaborating on His words. The greatest wisdom, and the most powerful truths, are His words, not mine” (page 134).
In Joyner’s vision, Paul does admit that his words are Scripture and are true. But he downplays their authority below that of the Gospels. This is bizarre to me, as Joyner seems to be suggesting that the parts of the Bible written by Paul are less important or authoritative than the Gospels. Yet, there is no biblical basis for this. Paul’s teachings are Scripture, so they are equal to all the Bible’s other teachings. I don’t know why Joyner would want to downplay Paul’s teachings as he does.
Red Flag 5: Joyner claims Paul equates his New Testament writings with Joyner’s writing.
Toward the close of Joyner’s conversation with Paul, Paul tells Joyner, “Even in this conversation I can only confirm what I have already written, but you still have much writing to do” (page 135). First, I want to point out that Paul does much more in Joyner’s vision than simply confirm what Paul already wrote in Scripture. Paul tells Joyner many things outside of Scripture. So this statement isn’t true. Second, Paul seems to equate his New Testament writings with Joyner’s writing of The Final Quest. So, in effect, Paul is putting Joyner’s book on the level of Scripture.
I believe all these red flags should cause Christians to question Joyner’s claim to be a “prophet” and “apostle.”