‘Apostle’ Joyner Meets Apostle Paul

April 30, 2007

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.

Last Thought
I believe all these red flags should cause Christians to question Joyner’s claim to be a “prophet” and “apostle.”

Strange Doctrines

April 16, 2007

Final Quest In my last post, I began a critique of Rick Joyner’s book, The Final Quest. Although this book has been out for over a decade, it’s still very popular and is continuing to bring people into the apostolic-prophetic movement. Also, many of the book’s erroneous teachings are taught in apostolic-prophetic churches.

Rick Joyner headshot In the introduction to The Final Quest, Joyner (pictured here) claims that modern prophetic revelations — like the vision contained in his book — can’t be used to establish doctrine (teaching). He says, “We have the Scriptures for that.” The two purposes of modern revelation, according to Joyner, are to reveal God’s will about certain matters and to illuminate doctrine that is taught in the Bible.

Yet — despite what Joyner says — his book contains many doctrines not found in Scripture or that contradict Scripture. In this post, I will look at a few examples of each.

Doctrines Not Found in Scripture
• Christians will be assigned to various levels of heaven. The Christians who served the Lord wholeheartedly, and with the right motives, will dwell in a level closer to Christ’s throne and will enjoy more of His presence, according to Joyner. They also will have more glorious bodies than the less devoted Christians. Those who didn’t serve Christ wholeheartedly will be assigned to the “outer fringes” of heaven for all eternity — far from Christ’s throne and presence. But, first, they will endure a hell-like experience — which lasts for what seems like a lifetime — until they repent of their lack of devotion to Christ. Only then will they be allowed to enjoy the lowest level of heaven. (See chapter 4 of The Final Quest for this teaching.)

Although the Bible does teach that there will be rewards given out in heaven, it doesn’t teach that there are different levels or that some Christians will have more glorious spiritual bodies than others. It also doesn’t teach that some Christians will have to go through a hell-like experience. Instead, the Bible teaches that heaven will be a place of eternal joy and intimacy with Christ for all God’s people. And it teaches that there will be no mourning in heaven because Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).

• Last-days Christians must submit to modern-day prophets to have victory in the final battle (pages 58-59). They should be dependent on the prophets like children are dependent on their parents, according to Joyner (page 60).

Yet, the Bible doesn’t teach that Christians must submit to modern-day apostles and prophets. In fact, the apostle Paul warns the Galatian Christians about false teachers who want other Christians to seek after them (Galatians 4:17).

• Christians should frequently interact with angels (page 71).

But nowhere does the Bible teach that angelic encounters are to become common or sought after.

Doctrines That Contradict Scripture
• Joyner teaches that marriages will continue in heaven (page 103), though Jesus taught that there will be no marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:29-30).

• Joyner teaches that Christians — during their earthly lives — can eat the fruit of the Tree of Life that was in the Garden of Eden (pages 35, 41-43), though the Bible teaches that we can’t eat of the Tree of Life until we go to heaven (Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). In fact, after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, God put angelic guards around it to block access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). Yet, in Joyner’s vision, these angels allow Joyner to eat the tree’s fruit, which, according to Joyner, represents God’s love. Joyner said God told him:

This [fruit] is now your daily bread. It shall never be withheld from you. You may eat as much and as often as you like (page 35).

Seeking access to the Tree of Life — though forbidden by God until heaven — is a recurring doctrine in the apostolic-prophetic movement. I hope to address this teaching more in a future post.

• Joyner’s misinterprets the “parable of 10 virgins” in Matthew 25:1-13 (page 89-91). He says the five foolish virgins are Christians who wasted their lives by living for themselves rather than serving God. So, they are assigned to the lowest level of heaven. But, first, these foolish virgins must go to a place of outer darkness where they gnash their teeth, according to Joyner. (By implication, Joyner also teaches that the foolish virgins won’t be able to take part in the great wedding feast, since, in Matthew 25, the foolish virgins are barred from entering it.)

Yet — despite Joyner’s teaching — Matthew 25 makes it clear that the foolish virgins won’t make it to heaven at all. According to the passage, the five wise virgins are allowed into the wedding feast, and then the door is shut behind them (Matthew 25:10). The five foolish virgins will try to get in, but Jesus tells them, “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12). So, these foolish virgins are people who don’t belong to Christ because they didn’t trust Him for their salvation.

All God’s people — since they’re all part of the bride of Christ — will take part in the wedding feast. No people in heaven will be left out of this festivity. Nor will any of God’s people “gnash their teeth in outer darkness” — as Joyner teaches — because this is a biblical description for hell. For more on this, see Hampton Keathley’s article, “The Outer Darkness: Heaven’s Suburb or Hell?”

I’m troubled that Joyner — someone who is considered an “apostle” and “prophet” — would be so careless with his handling of Scripture. The Bible warns that church teachers should be able to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Strange Doctrines
The apostle Paul told Timothy — the leader of the church of Ephesus — to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul said these doctrines are based on “myths” and “mere speculation.” I think Paul’s command should be applied to many of Joyner’s doctrines.

There are other strange doctrines in Joyner’s Final Quest, which I plan to look at in future posts.

Bill Hamon’s Dangerous Doctrines

March 13, 2007

Bill and Evelyn Hamon You may never have heard of Bishop Bill Hamon, but you should know who he is. This man (pictured here with his wife, Evelyn) is one of the most influential “prophets” in the apostolic-prophetic movement, which has entered many charismatic churches — the fastest-growing churches in the world according to church growth researchers.

Hamon’s also one of the most influential charismatics in general — attending the invitation-only “Charismatic Leaders Council,” sponsored by Strang Communications (publisher of Charisma magazine), Jan. 15-16, in Lake Mary, Florida. Yet, Hamon’s teachings are some of the most unorthodox teachings in the church today.

Hamon’s Teachings
Hamon teaches that Christ can’t return to earth until Christians form a “militant” army — under the leadership of modern apostles and prophets — that will physically subdue the earth and start to establish God’s kingdom in the earth’s governments. Hamon compares this army to the Crusaders, who he describes as the church’s only bright lights during the Dark Ages.

Apostles. Prophets and the Coming Moves of GodGod’s end-times army will achieve victory, in part, by striking God’s enemies with blindness and calling down natural disasters on them — causing entire nations to convert to Christ, according to Hamon. The apostles and prophets will be so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin in their lives will be struck dead. All members of the army will become sinless and extremely powerful — as they become more and more enlightened through new doctrines given by the apostles and prophets — finally attaining their own immortality (this is Hamon’s unorthodox take on the rapture). See these teachings in Hamon’s book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God (pictured here).

Hamon’s Influence in the Apostolic-Prophetic Movement
C. Peter Wagner The apostolic-prophetic movement’s most prominent leader may be C. Peter Wagner (pictured here). Yet, Wagner admits that he got many of his views from Hamon, calling Hamon one of his “closest prophetic colleagues” and confessing his great admiration for Hamon (see page 11 of Wagner’s book Changing Church and the foreword Wagner wrote to Hamon’s book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God).

Many in the apostolic-prophetic movement regard Hamon as one of the most influential “prophets” today, and those who’ve endorsed his books include Oral Roberts, Tommy Tenney, Cindy Jacobs, Emanuele Cannistraci, David Cannistraci, Earl Paulk and Ed Silvoso.

Background on Bill Hamon
Prophets and Personal Prophecy As the founder and bishop of Christian International Ministries Network based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, Hamon oversees over 600 churches in 19 countries (see the list here), and he’s authored several books that have been influential in the apostolic-prophetic movement, including Prophets and Personal Prophecy (pictured here). He conducts popular seminars that teach people how to prophesy. (I attended one at the Azusa Street Centennial in Los Angeles last April, and the line of people went out the door. His questionable methods for “activating” people into prophetic gifting are topics for another post.) He also founded Christian International School of Theology, from where he earned his own two degrees: a bachelor of theology and a master of theology. According to his Web site, he also was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree in 1973 from an unnamed “national university,” which was when he assumed the title “Dr. Hamon.”

Hamon also serves on the faculty of the Wagner Leadership Institute, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Prophet-Apostle Hamon
In addition to the titles “Bishop” and “Doctor,” Hamon calls himself “Prophet-Apostle.” In fact, he believes God has chosen him to restore doctrines that the church lost through the ages and to reveal new doctrines and final assignments.

Many of Hamon’s doctrines can’t be found in the Bible — but this doesn’t concern Hamon, who teaches that modern “apostles” and “prophets” give the church new doctrines that supplement those given by the original apostles and prophets. In Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God, Hamon says:

“He [Paul] also reveals that this anointing for divine revelation was not just given to the prophets of old but has now been equally given to Christ’s Holy Apostles and Prophets in His Church” (page 140).

This teaching — that new doctrines are needed to supplement Scripture — is a mark of the cults of Christianity, like Mormonism. In contrast, Protestants believe that Christians get their teachings from the Bible alone, which God revealed through the original prophets and apostles.

Hamon’s New Doctrines vs. the Bible
While Hamon claims that his new doctrines supplement Scripture, they also contradict it. The revelations given by the apostle John in the biblical book of Revelation, for example, teach that the judgments against the wicked will be brought by God, not Christians, and that the rapture will be God’s means of sparing Christians from the effects of those judgments, not a means of attaining their own immortality.

‘Manifest Sons of God’ Doctrine
Hamon’s teachings are consistent with the heretical “manifest sons of God doctrine,” which teaches that a breed of super-Christians will arise and subdue the earth. Another common strain of this doctrine is that Christians are gods, whose divinity will be revealed — or using King James Language — be manifested. Read more about this doctrine here.

Supporters of this doctrine misapply the biblical teaching about the church being Christ’s body, using it to argue that the church actually becomes part of God. (See pages 266-267 of Hamon’s book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God, where he seems to be misusing this teaching this way.) Also, in his books, Hamon capitalizes the words “Church” and “Bride” to show the church’s “union with Deity through Jesus Christ,” according to an explanatory note. Statements like these, which appear throughout Hamon’s materials, make it appear he is teaching that the church actually becomes part of God.

Of course, 2 Peter 1:4 does teach that we “participate in the divine nature,” but this refers to the Holy Spirit who indwells us, enabling us — as the passage goes on to state — to “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” It does not teach that our nature actually becomes divine. The teaching that human beings can become divine is the same lie that Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden.

In light of these troubling teachings, Hamon’s influence on so many Christians today disturbs me. I plan to read more of his writings and discuss more of his teachings in future posts.

Should Christians Experience the Supernatural?

March 6, 2007

Charisma cover, Feb. 2007 The February 2007 issue of Charisma magazine (pictured here) featured an article by Patricia King, titled “Living in the Throne Room. King (a “prophet” in the apostolic-prophetic movement and founder of Extreme Prophetic Television in Canada) argues that supernatural experiences — like seeing the Lord on His throne, being visited by angels, or being transported from one geographical location to another by the Holy Spirit — should be a “normal part of a believer’s experience.”

This, of course, is a big claim. If such experiences should be a normal part of the Christian’s life, then many of us — myself included — are falling far short. Yet, this teaching is common in the apostolic-prophetic movement. So, I think it’s important to consider it. After reading King’s article, I found at least five key errors in her reasoning.

Error 1: She equates these types of experiences with God’s love

Patricia King headshot The first major error King (pictured here) makes is she claims that these types of supernatural experiences should be ours because God loves us.

She starts off this argument with a correct statement. She says that an intimate relationship with God, like a marriage relationship, should include experience of His love for us. I agree. In the Bible, we see that God’s people not only had sound doctrinal knowledge about Him, but they also had a loving relationship with Him. King David’s psalms express great depth of feeling and experience with God. Unfortunately, some Christians today stress the importance of doctrine, but they undervalue the roles of experience and emotions in our relationship with God.

So, King starts off correct. But then she makes a huge logical leap. She argues that experiencing God’s love includes experiencing the wonders of the heavenly realm, here and now — including God’s throne, angels and golden streets. She says that because God loves us, “we have been invited to discover and partake of it all.”

But King can’t support this teaching from Scripture. True, the church is called the “bride of Christ.” But we’re currently betrothed to Christ. The marriage — though certain — won’t take place until He returns for us and takes us to our new home with Him in heaven. Until then, we can’t expect to experience the wonders of our heavenly home.

I’m afraid many Christians may be burdened in their relationship to God because of King’s mistaken teaching. When they don’t have the supernatural experiences she speaks of, then they may feel disheartened that God doesn’t love them or that they’re not pleasing Him. But, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christians should expect to see heavenly scenes or experience such overtly supernatural occurences during their earthly lives.

Error 2: Her main biblical support is a passage that she quotes out of its context

In her article, King says: “Not only are we to seek Jesus, but we are to actually seek the things of the kingdom — the things of the unseen realm” (emphasis hers). To make her point, she quotes Colossians 3:1-2, where Paul urges the Colossians to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

King’s argument hinges on this Scripture passage. But, when you read it carefully, in context, you may see that the “things above” do not refer to angels or throne room scenes. In fact, far from it — just six verses before this verse — Paul warns the Colossians about false teachers who were promoting angel worship and who were claiming to be spiritually superior because of visions they received. Colossians 2:18

The “things above” that Paul told Christians to focus on are the truths that (1) we have died to our old sinful nature, and (2) we have been resurrected to new life with Christ, which will be fully revealed at Christ’s second coming. As a result of these truths, we should no longer engage in the sinful things listed in verses 5-9, but we should do the holy things listed in verses 12 through chapter 4 verse 6.

So, the passage does not tell Christians to seek supernatural encounters — as King claims it does.

Error 3: These types of supernatural experiences were never sought in the Bible

King also fails to recognize that, in the Bible, God’s people never sought after these types of supernatural experiences.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of one instance where we have an indication that the prophets, apostles or evangelists sought out the amazing, otherworldly experiences they had. Instead, these experiences happened to them when they least expected it. Phillip was suddenly visited by an angel who told him where to go. Phillip didn’t seem to know that he was being directed to the right place at the right time to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch. As soon as he finished baptizing the eunuch, Phillip found himself whisked away to another location. The angels who visited Abraham, Mary and the apostle John all showed up — seemingly unexpected. And the list goes on.

Error 4: These types of experiences weren’t typical in the Bible

King also misrepresents these types of supernatural experiences as normal occurrences in the Bible.

Yes, there are many miracles in the Bible. Yet, for the patriarchs, prophets and apostles who experienced them, they weren’t typical occurrences in their lives. Whenever Paul spoke of his Damascus Road encounter with God, for example, he always spoke of it with amazement. He didn’t treat it like it was no big deal — just another, run-of-the-mill supernatural experience.

Error 5: Supernatural experiences aren’t always from God

King, rightly, warns her readers that not all supernatural experiences are from God. Her article includes a 2/3-page sidebar, titled “Avoiding Spiritual Pitfalls,” that seeks to warn people of dangers they might encounter in the “invisible realm.” It’s good that she warns her readers of the reality of such dangers and advises them to test all their spiritual encounters by the Bible.

Although these warnings are great, I’m afraid King isn’t heeding them herself. Her Extreme Prophetic Web site and television program promote troubling “prophets” like Todd Bentley. Bentley claims to have supernatural encounters all the time. He says: “Never more than a few days go by that I don’t encounter third heaven and some kind of prophetic experience — at times it happens daily for months. Supernatural experiences have become part of daily Christianity for me.”

But one of the angels that Bentley claims visits him is an angel that was associated with William Branham’s healing ministry, according to Bentley. See Bentley’s report of the “angelic” visits here. This should concern Christians because Branham — a “prophet” in the Latter Rain movement — taught many false and heretical doctrines. See this source for more information. These false teachings include:

• Claiming that he was the angel in Revelation 3:14 and 10:7
• Claiming he was Elijah, who would precede Christ’s return
• Denying the Trinity and calling it a satanic doctrine
• Teaching that Eve had sexual intercourse with the serpent, producing human beings who are destined for hell, which is only a temporal place. But those who receive God’s seed (Branham’s teaching) are the “Bride of Christ”
• Saying that anyone who was a member of any denomination had taken the “mark of the beast”

• Giving a number of false prophecies about the end of the world
• Teaching that the Word of God had been given in two other forms besides the Bible: the zodiac and the Egyptian pyramids
• Some of his followers thought he was God or had been virgin born and, when he died in 1965, they believed he would be resurrected.
• Many of Branham’s critics believe he genuinely had a supernatural gift of healing, but that it wasn’t from God since he promoted heretical teachings

Bentley claims that, whenever Branham’s angel shows up at one of Bentley’s meetings, he gets a supernatural ability in his left hand to diagnose people’s sicknesses, and he also gets correct words of knowledge about details from their lives — just as Branham claimed. In the same article I linked to above, Bentley also talks about another troublesome “angel” named Emma, who I will address in a future post.

How can King claim to practice discernment in the spiritual realm, yet promote “prophets” like Bentley? This should alarm King’s followers.

Important Qualification
So, should we experience the supernatural regularly? My quick answer is “yes.” This may surprise you, given my above response to King’s article. But, it’s all in how you classify the supernatural. If, by supernatural, one means that we should talk with angels and take trips to heaven, then the answer — according to the biblical evidence — is no.

Yet, the Christian life is a supernatural life. First, our new birth is a major miracle — through it, we are convicted of and washed of our sins, we receive eternal life, and we are indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit who starts the work of conforming us to Christ’s image. After this initial miracle, our lives as Christians should continue to be characterized by the supernatural. Here are many types of supernatural works that Christians should consistently seek and see in their daily lives:

• Love for others, including our enemies 1 John 4:7-21
• Fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control Galatians 5:22-23
• Conviction of sin in our lives John 16:8-9
• Gifts of the Spirit 1 Corinthians 14:1
• Assurance of our salvation by God’s Holy Spirit Romans 8:16
• Comfort from the Holy Spirit and direction to truth John 14:15-18
• Inner strength from the Holy Spirit Ephesians 3:16
• Guidance from the Holy Spirit Acts 16:6-7
• Power from God for effective ministry Acts 1:8, Ephesians 3:20, John 15
• Boldness in evangelism Ephesians 6:19-20
• Answered prayers (when they are according to God’s will) John 15:16, 16: 23-24

Holly’s Top 7 Prophecies for 2007

January 18, 2007

Since the “prophets” in the apostolic-prophetic movement have been releasing their predictions for the new year, I thought I’d share mine before January’s over.

But, first, remember that none of these predictions has to happen this year, or next year, or the year after — or ever — to qualify as true prophecies. Many factors that could hinder their occurrence include — but are not limited to — the following: prayer, fasting, maybe I misheard what God said, maybe you misheard what I said, maybe you misheard what I misheard God said, maybe God wasn’t clear with what He said, maybe God changed his mind, maybe enough seed offerings didn’t come in, maybe you didn’t really believe the prophecies, maybe I didn’t really believe them, maybe demonic spirits intercepted them mid-air, and maybe the prophecies really did happen but you didn’t see them — and, for that matter, nobody did — because their fulfillments had to be seen with “spiritual” eyes.

Keeping those in mind, here are my top seven prophecies for 2007 (Note, seven is a prophetically significant number. That’s because 2007 is the year of sevens … the year of the seven-fold portion. Everything you send me — in cash or Starbucks coffee cards — will be returned to you seven-fold.*)

The Top 7

1. Many “prophets” will arise and give vague, abstract, nebulous prophecies that could mean anything and be interpreted anyway.

2. Many of these “prophets” will explain away their failed prophecies with ludicrous explanations that will be accepted by many of their followers.

3. “Prophets” will “predict” the past with retroactive prophecies.

4. “Prophets” will prophesy a “transference of wealth” — to themselves.

5. Surprising changes will occur: people will move, switch jobs, politics will shift — oops, Patricia King already covered this one (see last post).

6. Many “prophets” will claim to be attacked by demonically motivated Christians who — for some unknown, but diabolical reason — oppose the “prophets’” heresies, scams in the name of God, and false prophecies. The “prophets” will accuse these Christians of being “Pharisees,” “Jezebels” and having a “religious spirit” (a tactic to silence criticism).

7. As a sign that all these things shall come to pass, there will be clouds in the sky, birds in the air, Wal-Marts in more cities — and many other extremely rare and unusual occurrences.

Footnote 1: The seven-fold blessing is a joke, although cash and Starbucks cards are nice! Just kidding again.

Footnote 2: Please don’t misunderstand the intent of this satire. I’m not mocking prophecy, but the misuses of it. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 warns us not to mock prophecy (which is stifling the Holy Spirit), but to test all prophecies — holding onto the good ones and staying away from the bad ones, which are described as “evil.”

King’s ‘Extremely Prophetic’ Directives for 2007

January 2, 2007

Patricia King headshot Patricia King — host of the television program “Extreme Prophetic with Patricia King” — just released her “Seven Prophetic Directives for 2007” through the Elijah List. Read the directives here. I want to point out that not one “prophecy” in the entire list predicts anything that doesn’t happen every year. So, how can King be considered a prophet?

Directive No. 1, for example, states that in 2007 God is looking for Christians who will invest their talents wisely and bear fruit for the kingdom. My response is: when isn’t God looking for this? He wants this from all Christians, in every year of church history.

Directive No. 2 predicts that there will be a lot of changes in 2007 — including political changes, people moving to new locations, getting new jobs, and switching their college majors. Again, these predictions are laughable. When don’t these things happen?

The funniest of her predictions for 2007 is that people will start finding change (coins) in unique places, like on the ground in front of them and in drawers. She says these finds will confirm her prediction of coming changes. So, now every time people find change, should they see it as a prophetic sign? King also predicts the appearances of butterflies and unusual weather patterns. Again, when don’t we see butterflies and unusual weather patterns?

Directive No. 4 predicts catastrophes and, in response to these catastrophes, Christians reaching out to the victims with compassion ministry and prayer. Again, which year hasn’t the world had catastrophes, and when haven’t Christians responded in compassion and prayer?

Directive No. 6 predicts that biblical teachings will be challenged. But some Christians will rise up to defend those teachings — facing persecution. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but when hasn’t this happened? (Not to mention that King and her fellow “prophets” are challenging many biblical teachings with their teachings about apostles and prophets.)

These directives aren’t “extremely prophetic” — in fact, they’re not even slightly prophetic — despite the name of King’s ministry. Visit King’s Extreme Prophetic Web site here.

Why People Join This Movement

December 4, 2006

Puzzle PieceWhen I tell Christians about the teachings of the apostolic-prophetic movement, they often ask me, “Why do people join this movement?”

Good question. When you bring the movement’s teachings together, you get a bizarre worldview that has no basis in Scripture. Yet, the thing is: Very few people in the apostolic-prophetic movement have brought all the teachings together. They’ve embraced a teaching here and another one there, but they don’t realize that all the teachings — like puzzle pieces — fit together. And the picture that emerges would, I believe, rightly concern many of them.

Many true, sincere Christians are caught up in this movement, but don’t know what they’re caught up in. That’s because many apostolic-prophetic churches don’t provide full disclosure of their teachings. In fact, they often have standard evangelical statements of faith. See, for example, the statement of beliefs for Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif.

Ché Ahn Headshot From this statement, it appears that Harvest Rock Church is a typical charismatic church. What you’re not told is that the church is enmeshed in the apostolic-prophetic movement — teaching that all Christians must submit to new apostles and prophets, who have unquestioned authority and the ability to give new teachings that aren’t found in Scripture. The pastor/“apostle,” Che´Ahn (pictured here), is a key player in the movement. Ahn is a member of C. Peter Wagner’s “International Coalition of Apostles,” (see the membership list here), and he gives sermons that promote the movement’s troublesome teachings. Ahn also brings in the movement’s “prophets,” like Todd Bentley and Kim Clement, to speak to his congregation. See the lineup of “prophets” at the church’s next conference. In fact, Harvest Rock Church even has its own in-house “prophet,” Lou Engle, who is another key player in the movement.

Yet, I’d venture to guess that many people attending Harvest Rock Church don’t even know — really know — what the apostolic-prophetic movement is. They don’t know that when they joined this church, they joined a movement that many cult researchers consider one of the most erroneous sects in the church today. They don’t know that the movement’s teachings are the same as the Latter Rain Movement of the late 1940s that was condemned as heretical by most Christians — something the movement’s leaders freely admit. Learn about the Latter Rain Movement here.

What they do know is they like the church’s focus on teachings that are often neglected by other evangelical churches, like spiritual warfare. A vacuum has been created in the Church that apostolic-prophetic churches fill. But sadly, the way spiritual warfare is taught in this movement is unbiblical. (More on this in my next post.) In brief, in this movement spiritual warfare must be conducted under the direction of the “apostles” and “prophets,” who alone have the authority and divine strategies needed to defeat demonic principalities. Yet, many people in the movement don’t make the connection between the teachings about spiritual warfare and the teachings about “apostles” and “prophets.”

Many people have been immersed in this movement — perhaps they were even raised in it. So, they can’t see how drastically its teachings depart from historic, orthodox Christianity. In their minds, the teachings are Christian.

Other Christians are so weak in their knowledge of the Bible and Christian doctrine that they can’t spot deviations from orthodox Christianity. That makes them susceptible to aberrational movements, like this one. Sadly, the evangelical church, as a whole, has so downplayed the importance of doctrine that many Christians fall into this camp.

The ACPE’s ‘Fortune Cookie Prophecies’ for 2007

November 27, 2006

Fortune Cookie

On Nov. 1, the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (ACPE) released their “Word of the Lord for 2007” through the Elijah List. Each year, this group of 33 “prophets” meets to determine what God is saying to the Church for the new year. I want to point out some observations about this latest “Word.”

1. Note that the list of “prophets” in this council includes Steve Shultz, Chuck Pierce and Kim Clement — three people I’ve recently written about. Clement has a long list of false prophecies, and all three of them teach the unbiblical doctrines of the apostolic-prophetic movement (read past posts for more information). I plan to discuss the council’s other “prophets” in future posts.

C. Peter Wagner headshot
2. The council is headed by C. Peter Wagner (pictured here), perhaps the leading proponent of the apostolic-prophetic movement (he calls it the “New Apostolic Reformation”). Wagner teaches that all Christians must submit to the new apostles and prophets. Those who resist are motivated by a high-ranking demonic principality, according to Wagner. He also admits that this movement has the same teachings as the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s that was deemed heretical by most Christians. (See his books Churchquake! and Changing Church.)

3. The introduction to this “Word of the Lord” has lots of caveats — more than I’ve seen in previous years. Perhaps critics of the movement are having an effect. However, keep in mind a couple of things. First, many of these “prophets” teach that they have the office of prophet and, thus, have the same authority as prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah. So, although they seem to be downplaying their role here, they are elevating it in many of their books and other teaching materials. Also, notice that when you add up all the caveats, you’ll find that not one of the prophecies actually has to come to pass for the prophecies to be accurate, according to these “prophets.” (Read the introduction to see what I mean.) Furthermore, when you read all the prophecies, you’ll see that not one is specific enough to actually be proven true of false. They are so vague and nebulous that many things could be pointed to as their fulfillments. That’s why I call them “fortune cookie prophecies.” Consider prophecy No. 1, for example: “Finishing of a building cycle. Time for new building strategies to be released.” What does this mean? What would it look like if fulfilled? Anything could be made to fit this.

4. Notice prophecy No. 2: “Finishing of the five-fold ministry restored. Apostolic and Prophetic moving together.” The doctrine of “fivefold ministry” is the crux of the apostolic-prophetic movement. It’s based on Ephesians 4:11-13, which — according to the movement’s leaders — teaches that there are five ongoing, governmental offices in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They teach that apostles and prophets (the highest offices) have been missing since the first century, making the church ineffective. According to the ACPE, these two offices will finish being restored this year. Once all Christians submit to the new apostles and prophets, the church will have power like never before, according to the movement. (Note: Some Christians who believe in the doctrine of “fivefold ministry” don’t view apostles and prophets the same way as leaders in this movement do. They sometimes call missionaries and effective church leaders “apostles,” and they call people with the New Testament gift of prophecy “prophets.” I will talk about this more in future posts.)

5. Prophecy No. 6 has to do with the “transference of wealth.” According to leaders in the movement, God is going to transfer the world’s wealth from the wicked to the righteous (specifically, the apostles). The wealth will be redistributed under the guidance of the apostles. This will give the Church the resources it needs to establish God’s kingdom on earth. The problem is, this teaching has no basis in Scripture. It’s based on new revelation given by new “prophets,” like members of the ACPE. It’s also based on Scripture verses yanked out of context, like Isaiah 60:5 and 11, which speak of the time after Christ’s return.

Chuck Pierce headshot
6. Note, also, that the “prophets” tells us that 2007 is “The Year of the Clash of the Swords.” “Prophet” Chuck Pierce (pictured here) has prophesied that the Church is currently in a “seven-year war cycle” and that 2007 is the year of the sword. (I wrote about this two posts back.) Where did Pierce get this from? Certainly, not from the Bible. But the fact that the ACPE makes this a major portion of their “Word of the Lord for 2007” shows the weight they give to Pierce’s prophecies that have no biblical basis.

7. I think this warning is humorous: “Watch for the trap of fornication and adultery, and beware of seducing spirits.” Since when did we need a special word to warn us of the lure of sexual immorality? There’s a reason prostitution is called the world’s oldest profession. Of course, we should always beware of seducing spirits.

8. Whatever happened to all the prophecies made in the “Word of the Lord for 2006?” Read it here. I haven’t seen any follow up but, then again, those predictions also were vague, so almost anything could be made to fit them. There are lots of similarities with the “Word of the Lord for 2007,” like predictions of moves of God on university campuses.

These are just quick thoughts about the “Word.” Let me know yours.

Psychics, Prophets and Scripture Twisting

November 20, 2006

Voice of the Prophetic Magazine

I am continually distressed by “prophets” in the apostolic-prophetic movement who twist Scripture to support their teachings. Well, I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to Scripture twisting — until last Saturday, Nov. 18.

Voice of the Prophetic Magazine On this day, “Prophet” Steve Shultz — the publisher of the Elijah List (an e-mail newsletter) — sent out an advertisement for his new Voice of the Prophetic magazine (pictured above). Read the ad here. This ad contained a sample of the teachings you’ll receive if you subscribe to the magazine. The sample teaching, written by Shultz, is titled, “What’s the Difference Between a Prophet and a Psychic?”

Shultz’ 3 Tests for Prophets
Shultz’ answer is that there are three criteria for distinguishing a psychic from a true prophet of God.

1. A prophet claims the source for his or her prophecies is God, not some other power.
2. A prophet’s prophecies are “correct more times than they are incorrect.”
3. A prophet will seek to obey the Word of God at all times, while a psychic will not.

Criterion No. 1 is hardly helpful since many people — even non-Christians — claim the source of their prophecies is God. That doesn’t mean their prophecies really are from God. That’s why the Bible commands us to “test the spirits” to see whether a prophet is really speaking for God. 1 John 4:1

Criterion No. 3 also isn’t too helpful. What does it mean that a prophet seeks to obey the Word of God at all times? This seems rather vague and subjective. Certainly, this criterion should include the expectation that his or her teachings are faithful to the Word of God. Yet, Shultz never mentions the importance of comparing a “prophet’s” doctrines to the Bible — the most important test to apply to anyone who claims to represent God. In fact, 1 John 4:1, cited above, shows that the way we “test the spirits” that are speaking through a prophet is by evaluating the prophet’s teachings.

Blatant Scripture Twisting
Now, onto Criterion No. 2: The prophet’s prophecies are “most often accurate.” Amazingly, this criterion — which allows for failed prophecies — directly contradicts the Bible. The Bible tells us that if a prophet gives a false prophecy, then he or she is a false prophet. Yet, Shultz claims that a prophet will makes mistakes, but that doesn’t disqualify that person as a true prophet. To support this teaching, Shultz twists Scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 18:22:

“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.”

The standard interpretation of this verse throughout church history is that someone who gives a false prophecy is a false prophet. So, there is no need to fear this person’s prophecies because God did not send him or her. But here is Shultz’ interpretation of this passage:

“However, even if a true prophet misses it once in awhile, the Bible tells you not to be afraid of that person. Just because a person makes a mistake doesn’t mean he or she is a false prophet or a psychic. It only means they are still learning to hear accurately.”

Do you see what Shultz has done? He’s made the verse say the exact opposite of what it really says. He says not to be afraid that someone is a false prophet if he or she gets some prophecies wrong. That prophet simply needs to develop his or her prophetic abilities, according to Shultz.

What a bizarre interpretation of this verse! Read it in its larger context: Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Notice that, just two verses above the verse Shultz quotes in the very same passage, the Bible says that a person who gets prophecies wrong should be put to death. Shultz conveniently leaves out that part of the passage.

Elijah List Conference Part of me thinks that such blatant twisting Scripture has to be intentional, but perhaps Shultz is actually that deceived. Either way, God’s people should not be looking to him for teachings on the prophetic. But, sadly, some Christians are. Shultz will be a featured “prophet” at an Elijah List conference in Albany, Ore., Nov. 30-Dec. 2, titled “What is God Saying for 2007?” (Ad shown here)

I know some of my readers will think I’m attacking Shultz, but that’s not true. Keep in mind that he has attacked the teachings of historic, orthodox Christianity. I am simply defending the faith from his attacks.

Crucial Distinction
There’s an important point I need to make. A lot of confusion arises when it comes to issues of prophets and prophecy because many people don’t make a distinction between the office of prophet and the New Testament gift of prophecy. Some people claim that the Bible makes no such distinction. Yet, when we examine Scripture, this distinction emerges.

Office of Prophet
When it comes to Old Testament prophets — like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah — we see that they had great authority to speak God’s exact, infallible words. To disobey them was to disobey God. For example, Old Testament prophets gave new teachings and moral commands that were authoritatively binding on all God’s people. Many of their prophecies were recorded in Scripture and, as such, are still binding on Christians today. They also gave commands to kings that, if disobeyed, brought disastrous judgments on nations. They were sought for divine guidance.

New Testament Gift of Prophecy
In contrast, Christians with the New Testament gift of prophecy are never seen giving prophecies that are authoritatively binding on all Christians. They never give new commands or doctrines that become Scripture. Far from this, their prophecies must be tested by Scripture. They don’t have the absolute, divine authority we see attached to the office of prophet. In fact, their prophecies can be questioned, challenged and, when false, rejected by other believers.

Also, notably, nowhere in the New Testament do we see a prophet being sought out for guidance. That’s because, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon only specially chosen people. But, after Christ’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit now dwells within every believer — making the mediation of a special prophet unnecessary. The New Testament gift of prophecy doesn’t function to mediate or legislate, but to strengthen, comfort and encourage believers and to expose the sinful hearts of unbelievers so they will be convicted and receive salvation. 1 Corinthians 14:3, 14:24-25

Testing New Testament Prophecy
The difference between the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy also becomes apparent when we look at the tests for each. Those with the office of prophet must never give a failed prophecy. If they do, they are false prophets.

Those with the New Testament gift of prophecy, however, may make mistakes. This seems evident from 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, which teaches a church to test all prophetic words — holding onto the good ones and throwing out the bad ones. Note: This passage doesn’t say to throw out the Christian who gives a false prophecy (like the Old Testament says to kill a false prophet). It says to throw out the bad prophecy. The reason for this difference is simple: someone with the gift of prophecy doesn’t have great authority like someone who fills the office of prophet. This person isn’t claiming to be speaking God’s infallible words (or else his or her words would be equal to Scripture). Since the authority isn’t as great, the consequences of such mistakes aren’t as grave.

Theologian Wayne Grudem defines the gift of prophecy as: “speaking merely human words to report something God brings to mind.” Since these prophecies are filtered through human words and human interpretation, they are subject to error. This is a much-diminished role from those who fill the office of prophet and speak God’s very words. The gift of prophecy, however, is still a valuable gift that we should desire, according to Paul. 1 Corinthians 14:1

The Doublespeak of Shultz’ ‘Prophets’
Yet, Shultz (and many other leaders in the apostolic-prophetic movement) teach that the movement’s “prophets” have the office of prophet, the same as Elijah or Jeremiah. They claim that nations must obey their prophecies or face judgment. They claim they can give new doctrinal revelation and that all Christians must submit to them. These teachings can be found throughout their teachings and books. (See, for example, Bill Hamon’s book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God.)

Even though they claim all this for themselves, ironically — when it comes to the guidelines for testing those who hold this office — they turn around and claim those tests don’t apply to them. For instance, they claim that it’s OK if they get prophecies wrong — even though Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says they are false prophets and should be put to death. This is inconsistent. Shultz and his “prophets” can’t have it both ways. They can’t have the authority of the office without accepting the responsibility of the office.

I can’t address all the issues in depth here, as I would like to. These are complex issues, and we Christians need to think carefully about them. The apostle Paul warns us not to be “unaware” when it comes to spiritual gifts like prophecy because, if we are, then we can be misled into idolatry. 1 Corinthians 12:1-2 He also tells us to have maturity when thinking about these issues. 1 Corinthians 14:20 The nature of these gifts is supernatural and, because of that, they need to be practiced with much wisdom and discernment.

Yet, unfortunately many Christians haven’t thought carefully about these issues. And some leaders in the apostolic-prophetic movement are taking advantage of their lack of knowledge. I am afraid the result is that many Christians are being led into unbiblical teachings that, at the least, will stunt their walks with the Lord. At the worst, they might even be opening themselves up to demonic teachings and oppression — something I plan to discuss in future posts.

The Gift of Prophecy by Grudem For more understanding about prophecy and the role of prophets, I recommend Wayne Grudem’s book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (pictured here).

Chuck Pierce’s ‘War Season’ and the ‘Year of the Sword’

November 13, 2006

Year of the Sword Graphic In my posts, I keep trying to show how much of the apostolic-prophetic movement is not based on the Bible. Instead, many of its teachings are based on prophecies that have no biblical basis and that even contradict the Bible.

Here’s another example of a current prophecy that is distracting Christians from the Bible.

Chuck Pierce headshot “Apostle” Chuck Pierce (pictured here) has prophesied that, in 2001 — when the terrorists attacked America — the Church entered a “Seven-Year War Season.” Using a Hebraic calendar, Pierce believes we are now in the sixth year of this war season (Hebraic year 5767) — the “Year That Swords Will Clash.” This will be a year when the Church will engage in spiritual warfare and exercise its authority, according to Pierce. For more information, see his Oct. 25 prophecy sent out by the Elijah List.

Other ‘War’ Years
Here is what Pierce has prophesied about the other years of the “war season”:

• Year 1 (starting Sept. 2001) was the “The Beginning of War — 7 Years of Breaking Old Cycles”
• Year 2 (starting Sept. 2002) was a “Sabbath Day Rest Year” (a year for increasing our faith)
• Year 3 (starting Sept. 2003) was “A Year of Secrets, Mysteries and Surprises”
• Year 4 (starting Sept. 2004) was “A Year to Circle, Surround and Plunder the Enemies Camp”
• Year 5 (starting Sept. 2005) was a “Year of Staking Your Claim for the Future”
• Year 6 (starting Oct. 2006) is the “Year That Swords Will Clash”
• Year 7 (yet to be announced by Pierce)

Read his explanations of each year here.

Not Biblical
The whole concept of a “seven-year war season” will sound odd to many Christians. Nowhere do we see Jesus or the original apostles teaching people that that the Church will continually go through different cycles. Yet — according to the apostolic-prophetic movement — the Church needs new “apostles” and “prophets” like Pierce to give supernatural insight into these cycles. Why? If the church knows the current cycles, then it can use the necessary strategies to defeat demonic forces and establish God’s kingdom on earth.

Embraced by Prominent Leaders
Pierce’s prophecy has been embraced by leaders in the apostolic-prophetic movement, who consider Pierce to be a very accurate prophet when it comes to revealing the times and seasons the Church is in. In fact, many of the movement’s leaders are actually scheduling their ministries around Pierce’s timetable. The Elijah List, for example, regularly features updates on the “war season,” and entire conferences have been held to teach Christians how to live during each year of the war season. See this conference held to prepare Christians for the fourth year, which featured speakers Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, John Eckhardt and Peter Wagner.

‘War Season’ Products

Lapel pin, war season Tent Peg, war season Costmary Anointing Oil Pierce has even sold products geared around the “war season,” including this $20-lapel pin, this $20-tent peg, and this $12 anointing oil, all designed to help Christians wage battle in the fifth year.

Pendant, year of the sword This $20-necklace pendant represents the current year of the sword.

The Future War of the Church Cover Art He also has written a book about this war season titled The Future War of the Church (pictured here). In this book, he argues that it’s crucial for all Christians to submit themselves to modern apostles.

Pierce’s “war season” is another example of how he, and other leaders in this movement, are causing Christians to turn their eyes away from the sure teachings of Scripture and, instead, pay attention to their vague, unbiblical and speculative prophecies.