Rick Joyner — co-founder of MorningStar Publications and Ministries based in Fort Mill, S.C. — is one of the most well-known leaders in the apostolic-prophetic movement and is regarded by his followers as both a “prophet” and an “apostle.” The Final Quest is perhaps his most popular book. It contains a vision that, Joyner claims, God gave to him to equip the last-days church for its final battle against darkness. The Final Quest is followed by two sequels, titled The Call and The Torch and the Sword. Together, these books have sold over a million copies.
Many people, including dear friends of mine, reported feeling very edified by The Final Quest when they read it. They appreciated the book’s heavenly perspective on the spiritual battle Christians are fighting on earth. It reminded them of the eternal significance of how we spend our time here on earth and the glorious rewards that await us. It encouraged them to be humble by reminding them that many of the Christians who will be the greatest in heaven will have been regarded as the least on earth. It also stresses the importance of simple devotion to Jesus and of love for others.
Concerns About Joyner’s ‘Final Quest’
I just finished reading The Final Quest and also appreciated these emphases in the book. The book also contains teachings, however, that should concern Christians — teachings that directly contradict the Bible’s teachings. Some of them are especially troubling and, I fear, will hinder many people’s relationships with Christ.
When I spoke with my friends about these teachings, they were surprised and said they didn’t remember them being in the book. This may be the case with other Christians who’ve read The Final Quest, so I wanted to point out, specifically, some of these troubling teachings. I will deal with one of them in this post and continue to address more in future posts.
I will dedicate several posts to Joyner’s teachings because of his influence in the apostolic-prophetic movement and because these teachings are promoted by other leaders in the movement. I’m not trying to pick on Joyner, but believe serious errors in his teaching need to be noticed so Christians won’t be misled by them.
For those of you who’ve read The Final Quest, I encourage you to go back and read the pages I cite so you can see these teachings for yourselves (if you didn’t already notice them). Note: I’m using the 1996 edition published by MorningStar Publications, so the page numbers may vary in later editions.
Joyner’s Troubling Teaching No. 1: He claims the book’s vision is more accurate and important than revelation contained in the Bible.
On the back cover and in the book’s introduction (pages 7-14), Joyner says he received the vision from God in parts — over a period of one year. He goes on to explain that there are “many levels of prophetic revelation.”
Joyner’s ‘Levels of Prophetic Revelation’
The first level of revelation is, what Joyner calls, “prophetic impressions” — these can be very specific and accurate when those who receive them know how to interpret them correctly. However, these lower-level revelations also can be distorted by the recipients’ biases and incorrect understandings, according to Joyner.
The second level of revelation is a “special illumination to our minds” given by the Holy Spirit, according to Joyner. He says this level gives us “greater confidence” in the “importance” and “accuracy” of the revelation. However, this level can “still be influenced by our prejudices, doctrines, etc.,” according to Joyner (page 10). He believes this is the same level of revelation the apostles received when they wrote the New Testament letters. Joyner’s exact words are:
“I believe that this was probably experienced by the apostles as they wrote the New Testament epistles” (page 10).
The third level of revelation is “open visions,” which, according to Joyner, is more accurate than the second level (the level at which the apostles received their revelation recorded in scripture).
The fourth level is a “trance,” which Joyner defines as “like dreaming when you are awake.” This is the level at which Joyner received the vision recorded in his book, according to Joyner. He says:
“The visions contained in this book all began with a dream. Some of it came under a very intense sense of the presence of the Lord, but the overwhelming majority was received in some level of a trance” (page 11).
The crucial thing to notice is that Joyner is claiming that the vision he records in The Final Quest is more accurate and important than revelation contained in the Bible. This should alarm Protestant Christians who believe that the Bible is error-free and the final authority for Christian teachings (doctrines).
After listing the different levels of prophetic revelation, Joyner makes two important qualifications. Yet, unfortunately, he contradicts both those qualifications in his book.
His First Qualification
Joyner warns that modern prophetic revelations can’t give new teachings in addition to Scripture. He says:
“I must state emphatically that I do not believe that any kind of prophetic revelation is for he purpose of establishing doctrine. We have the Scriptures for that” (page 12).
He goes on the say that — rather than giving new doctrine — the purposes of prophetic revelation are: (1) to reveal the Lord’s present or future strategic will about certain things; and (2) to illuminate biblical doctrines we have not seen before.
If Joyner truly believes that modern prophetic revelations can’t teach new doctrines, then he should be commended for this. But, unfortunately, he contradicts this statement throughout his book, which gives many new doctrines that can’t be found in the Bible or that directly contradict doctrines taught in the Bible. I will look at these unbiblical doctrines in a future post.
His Second Qualification
Joyner warns that only the Bible is free from error, so he urges his readers to separate the “chaff” from the “wheat” in his written vision. He states:
“Only the Scriptures deserve to be considered infallible” (page 14).
Again, if Joyner truly believes that his vision is subject to error, then he should be commended for this. He should also be commended for teaching that the Bible alone is error-free. But he contradicts these statements by claiming that the level of prophetic revelation recorded in his book is one of the highest and most accurate levels — even higher and more accurate than New Testament scripture. So, Joyner seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Toward the end of The Final Quest, Joyner records a conversation he claims to have had with the apostle Paul during his vision. During this conversation, the apostle Paul equates Joyner’s written vision with Paul’s own New Testament scriptures (page 135).
Christians should be alarmed to see Joyner equate his own writing with scripture. Yet, he not only equates his writing with scripture; he actually elevates it above scripture by claiming that his revelation is from a higher level than the New Testament writings.
Given this troubling teaching, I was disturbed to discover that, in 2001, Thomas Nelson (a leading, evangelical Christian publishing house) published Joyner’s The Final Quest and its sequel, The Call, in a one-volume book titled The Vision. Either some editors at Thomas Nelson lack doctrinal discernment, or they were willing to set it aside to make some bucks. Either way, Thomas Nelson bears responsibility for promoting a book with such an unorthodox teaching (and other teachings I will discuss in the future).