[For those who may want it, there is a PDF format version of the paper at the foot of the text below]
Prologue to this Paper —
The Background to the Deception & Contagion
In the Christian scene over the last few decades, I have heard enough to make me wonder if vast swathes of the visible church are on crack! Much of it is so nuts that it is barely believable, but nevertheless it is all really happening. Anything from the churches in which people practice barking like dogs, hysterically laughing and twitching uncontrollably, howling like wolves, even so-called “vomiting in the Spirit” (bet you’ll do a web-search on that one!), to those in which pastors claim that oil is leaking out of their hands or gold is appearing in their teeth, to pastors with private jets telling their congregations to tithe loadsamoney in order for them to be blessed, to pastors and whole congregations waffling in pagan gobbledygook while ludicrously claiming it is their “private prayer language” and a special “hotline to God”, to congregations which plainly do not know the difference between metanoic spiritual transformation and autohypnosis. If the lunatics have taken over the asylum in this world (which indeed they now have), then the visible church also forms a large part of that asylum.
[Just to be clear, by the phrase “visible church”, I mean the church to which people in general in this world are exposed, as seen on the High Street or on TV. The visible church is not the same as the ‘body of Christ’ (what I call the “Ekklesia”), which only consists of genuine disciples of His. Obviously, the ‘body of Christ’ is part of the visible church; but the visible church does not represent the ‘body of Christ’. The visible church is made up of both genuine disciples of Christ and anyone else who claims to be, or who thinks they are, or who passes themselves off as ‘a Christian’].
I regularly receive numerous messages from folk who have ‘stumbled’ onto my website who are being screwed up by the lunatics and are suffering because of it. By “the lunatics” I mean either ‘heavy shepherd’ style elders and pastors misusing authority and thereby abusing the sheep, or those caught up in the Pentecostal/Charismatic scene who are promoting practices which are more in line with Pagan/New Age/Eastern mysticism than the Ekklesia which Christ came to build. I dealt with ‘heavy shepherding’ several years ago in a series of articles about spiritual abuse. It is the latter development on which I want to concentrate in this paper.
Throughout the past few years, I have felt an increasing burden for the fact that a snowballing number of otherwise evangelical churches are being seduced into the ways of superstition, animism and outright sorcery. This concern has been especially heightened through counselling those whose lives have been shattered as a result of their involvement in these things. True saving faith is undermined and substituted with a hollow triumphalism, while fortune-tellers masquerading as New Testament prophets are given a platform at major ‘evangelical’ gatherings, influencing both mature and infant Christians alike with their ‘divinations’.
It is with some trepidation that I embark on speaking out against people who profess to be ‘Christians’; and there may be those who would call me divisive because of what is written in these pages. But the division has already occurred in so many churches through the insensitive, forceful crusading of those who have been hoodwinked into accepting unbiblical and unhealthy modes of thought and behaviour. Therefore, from a negative standpoint, I felt that the time had come to expose the techniques through which these problems are being effected. But from a positive standpoint, it is my parallel aim to bring some edifying, healthy Biblical teachings which will feed the flock and demonstrate that there is no necessity for these contemporary movements within the Church — though one can certainly see them as part of the proliferating apostasy.
The Inability to Distinguish Between Mysticism
and Authentic Spirituality
It is so important to expose the inadequacies and deceptions of the theological rationale of the Charismatic Movement of today. In many churches, because of the profound ignorance about pagan religions and the lack of discernment concerning Satan’s true strategy among believers, there has developed a widespread inability to distinguish between mysticism and authentic spirituality, between sensual euphoria and true worship, between mere religion and the heart-work of Christ in a soul, and between the fleshly thrust of the human spirit and the transcendent work of the Holy Spirit. There is a desperate need for a systematic exposition of the earnest ‘suffering servant’ nature of the disciple of Christ, in order to neutralize the widespread but irresponsible teaching in many churches that God wants everyone to be healed of their diseases and financially prosperous. The Church is crying out for healthy teaching on apostleship, prophecy, tongues, spiritual gifts in general, and the real ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’. There is also a need to restore the word ‘renewal’ to its biblical meaning, as it has been hijacked from its original scriptural context in support of a limited, sectarian cause.
Satan’s Twin-Pincer Strategy Against the Church
A broad examination of Satan’s undermining of true spirituality today reveals a twin-pincer movement against the Church involving syncretism and mysticism. Syncretism involves the belief that all religions — in which the Ekklesia that Christ came to build is mistakenly included — are merely different cultural expressions of the same deity and ideals; while mysticism involves the contrived suspension of rational faculties, together with the conceit that Divine power can be tapped into, and even realised in oneself, through initiation into certain techniques. But such subjective teachings can only emerge in the absence of any objective Truth. The genuine disciple of Christ upholds the fact that such objective Truth has been revealed in the Bible, which is the word of God.
The Difference Between Rationalism and Rationality
It seems that there is some considerable confusion in many churches today in terms of identifying the difference between (unhealthy) ‘rationalism’, whereby the miraculous is denied and the supernatural work of the Spirit blasphemed, and (wholesome) ‘rationality’, whereby the disciple of Christ exercises necessary discernment and chooses that which is compatible with the law of God. Because of this misunderstanding, it is often said in Charismatic circles that the use of the mind is destructive to true spirituality, and there is a general belittlement of the intellect over against what is deemed to be ‘the Spirit’. But there could be no more demonic suggestion than this. The suspension of the rational has been the stuff of mysticism and cultdom since the beginning of human history. Far from suspending the activity of the mind, the indwelling Holy Spirit actually sharpens and transforms it so that it works powerfully and in the full service of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gospel of Luke, chapter 21, verses 12-15; First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verses 15-16; Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, verse 37; Letter to the Romans, chapter 12, verse 2; Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 23; Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verse 7).
So let us wholeheartedly reject humanistic ‘rationalism’; but let us at the same time embrace the exercise of the God-given faculty of ‘rationality’, by which healthy discernment is established and every false way shunned. Surrounded by such extreme forms of deception and delusion at this watershed time in history, never before has a ‘sound mind’ been so necessary in the life of the Church. To substitute rationalism with mysticism is the spiritual equivalent of moving from a one-dimensional world into a black hole.
The Lunacy is No Longer Fringe but Mainstream
You see, my dear friends, the problem with the lunatics that I mentioned above is that they are not now merely “a fringe”. Lunacy has gone mainstream now. I remember how when I lived in the UK I was inundated with mail and phone calls from people of all church types who wanted counselling. Many were from churches in the mainline Anglican denomination whose vicars were giving out phony words of knowledge and making cavalier pronouncements about demon possession of congregants which were tearing people apart. I remember going to give a talk at that time in the North East entitled “When a Church Becomes a Cult” — a title not designed to win me any popularity contests. This was at the request of an Anglican vicar who was horrified at what his fellow vicars in the county were up to. His bishop was apparently a spineless chap who was aware of these problems but seemed unable (or unwilling) to do anything about them, which is usually the case with these wimpish people in so-called ‘high office’. So I was invited to go there and stir things up.
Being able to “stir things up” these days is simply a question of speaking truth into a situation. That is all it takes to generate a major chemical reaction! When I write about these things, I am not indulging in gratuitous violence. I am simply expressing my exasperation that such things should be happening in the name of Jesus Christ and screwing up the lives of those who have been bamboozled into thinking that they are entrusting themselves to Him. A new disciple going to a church for the first time today is now a pig-in-a-poke hazardous operation.
Dangerous Forces & Energies
One of the main reasons that these things have been able to flourish is because people have naively failed to realise the fact that this Pentecostal/Charismatic stuff is playing around with dangerous forces and energies. This is what the Apostle Paul was trying to straighten out at the church in Corinth. Before they professed faith in Christ, as pagans they were “led to dumb idols” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 2), as if being “carried away” by some crazy impulse. The Greek word translated as “carried away” there is ἀπάγω, apagó, which literally means to be seduced or swept along without any rational reason; a bit like the English phrase “going away with the fairies”. Paganism is about letting it all hang loose. If it feels right, do it! But discipleship to Christ is not about frenzy or impulse; it is about sobriety and self-control (one of the fruits of having the indwelling Holy Spirit, Letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verses 22-23). This is a lesson which was needed not only by the church at Corinth in the first century AD, but it is a lesson sorely needed in the churches of today. This has nothing whatsoever to do with being rationalistic or suppressing the supernatural. Our God is certainly a God of miracles and infinite power; but He is not a God of confusion and disorder (unless He is bringing those on people as a judgement, Book of Exodus, chapter 23, verse 27; Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, verse 28, which is probably the case with many so-called churches today).
A Trapdoor into the Sewer of Hell
As I look out over the whole panoply of the last century and the first two decades of the present, I see a world and false church coming increasingly under the powerful delusory sway of the demonic realm. Because that realm has been under Divine restraint throughout this Gospel age (until such time as that restraint will be let loose, Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 6-7), methods have had to be devised by the powers of darkness to bring people more easily and readily under their sway. It seems that a trapdoor into the sewer of hell was gradually opened up over the past hundred and twenty years and more, letting out a flood of psychic sewage to prepare the world for the ultimate deception to which this age has been irresistibly leading. In the last three decades of the nineteenth century and the first two of the twentieth, a vast array of secular pseudo-spiritual forces was lined up to kick down any remaining traces of the true faith as being authoritative in the world and to open up successive generations to the teachings of demons. All within a relatively short period of time, there was Charles Darwin (theory of evolution advocate), Carl Jung (mystical psychologist and OSS agent, advisor to CIA Director, Allen Dulles, and therapist to his wife, Clover), Helena Blavatsky (founder of Theosophy), Annie Besant (major proponent of Theosophy), Swami Vivekananda (guru missionary of Hinduism to the West), Rudolf Steiner (founder of Anthroposophy), Alice B. Bailey (Lucis Trust founder and original proponent of the term ‘New Age’ in her literature), Phineas Quimby (founder of the New Thought Movement, a precursor of the New Age Movement which inherited many of its tenets, such as visualisation, affirmations, and the so-called ‘Law of Attraction’), and later Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (ardent pseudo-evolutionist and one of the primary philosophical sources of the New Age Movement). All these ‘influencers’ opened up the world to pseudo-scientific and psycho-spiritual developments in the ‘spirit of the Antichrist’ which would have a huge effect on the subsequent occult exploration of human consciousness. [All this I have catalogued in earlier books such as “The Serpent and the Cross”, and to a lesser extent in “Narrow Gate ~ Pathway Strait” and “Discerning the Signs of the Times”].
The two world wars dampened down the development of these psycho-spiritual movements, although they would have a profound effect on the parallel movements in world government — notably the inception of the League of Nations (1920), the United Nations (1945) and the Council of Europe (1949) as clear precursors of global government. Things were moving closer. However, in the 1960s, there was another burst of demonic world power through the hippy scene and the massive increase in ‘consciousness-exploration’ that brought in the use of psychedelic drugs (mainly through a CIA mind-control psyop — see my free-to-download book “Discerning the Signs of the Times“ for details), plus the popularising of yogic meditation and ‘human potential’ therapy groups, all of which opened many up to psychic interference and demonic manipulation. This merely accelerated and exacerbated what had already been achieved at the beginning of that century. The forces of darkness and disintegration (degeneration) masquerading as the power of love and unity has been one of the greatest works of Satan — never more than during the past century or so. Now, in the year 2023, we are fast approaching the planned climax of this movement. The iniquity which really lies behind the supposed New Age Utopia — their pretended ‘Great Shift’ or pseudo-’Great Awakening’ — is poised to begin.
The Origin of the Charismatic Movement
Now listen to this carefully, my friends. In the same time period that we find dark psychic forces began to move powerfully in the secular world, very similar forces fronting as ‘Christian’ began to develop within the visible church in parallel to its secular counterparts, which would also open up churches to psycho-spiritual influences which would have a huge impact on the subsequent development of the practices of the visible church. In the last part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, we had the start of the Pentecostal movement (notably in the Azusa Street event in 1906) bringing in its psychic power-games masquerading as “spiritual gifts” and the secondary “Baptismal Fire of the Spirit” which was making them speak gibberish, supposedly as evidence of their spiritual rebirth. Then, in the 1960s we had the Jesus People (which was ‘Christianised’ hippiedom, which gave birth to the Children of God, with their child abuse and “Flirty Fishing” offering sex to ensnare men in the cult) and the subsequent growth of the Charismatic movement, John Wimber’s Signs & Wonders Movement, which also grew directly out of the Jesus People, which had been brought about as a CIA-induced psychological operation (again, all of which I demonstrate in my book, “Discerning the Signs of the Times“).
I do not believe that it is a coincidence that during the same time-periods that the world was gradually but pointedly being prepared for the ultimate psychic deception (the revealing of the Antichrist), we find similar powerful forces at work in the visible church, effectively handing vast swathes of it over to Satan and undermining its power of truth in the Gospel. It is this connection between the powers of darkness operating in parallel in the world and in the church which needs to be understood today. It is an agenda which operates on a very similar ‘frequency’: New Thought Movement, Theosophy, Pentecostal Movement, Eastern mystical Western propaganda (including yoga, meditation and Kundalini), New Age Movement, Charismatic Movement, Signs & Wonders Movement, Catch the Fire Movement, etc. They all operate in the same ‘energetic’ milieu but with different labels.
Now I know you might say here that the Pentecostal Movement is quite tight about the divinity of Christ, etc. That is true, to a point. BUT that is another deceptive aspect. For this is the movement which legitimised the phony “Baptism with the Spirit” and speaking in so-called ‘Tongues’ and subsequently lent that seeming legitimacy to the Charismatic Movement. For once one starts getting into all that demonic stuff it always escalates into unhealthy teaching, abounding craziness and the inability to see that it is crazy, for it is like a rabid contagion.
This does not mean that no one has ever been spiritually saved in the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Jesus People scene. That is not at all what I am saying. God moves and works in all sorts of wacky scenarios which human beings have devised — not because of them, but in spite of them! So, yes, many most likely have been saved in the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, but this has nothing to do with the movements themselves. It is simply because — in spite of the dross which has been added — the Gospel of salvation is still, in one way or another, proclaimed. God is sovereign, even in the darkest hole! The reality is that any genuine disciple of Christ who finds himself or herself in that unhinged environment will at some stage become uneasy and move on to more genuinely spiritual things. It is a lovely fact that those disciples who have been seriously deceived in their life-journey and have subsequently seen through that deception are often much more discerning and wise afterwards than those who have not. So there is a silver lining even in that.
The Prevalence of ‘Altered States of Consciousness’
and their Purpose
Any occultist/witch/New Ager/yogi will corroborate the fact that the essence of their craft is to find entrance into an altered state of consciousness (known as ASCs). For, unbeknown to them, such states are being induced by the demonic realm, because those are the states through which the forces of darkness have the easiest access to human minds. That is also what lies at the heart of the Pentecostal/Charismatic experience. Take away their altered states of consciousness and there is no Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement. It is no coincidence that even occultists and New Agers themselves see these movements in the Christian scene as very much a part of the New Age. I have read numerous accounts by leading occultists in which they identify the Charismatic Movement as being the collective exercise of psychic power. One example is Peter Spink, who was the Canon of Coventry Cathedral in the U.K. Peter Spink, like a number of his Church of England ministerial counterparts, was essentially a New Ager. And he speaks about this connection in his 1996 book, which is significantly entitled, “Beyond Belief: How to Develop Mystical Consciousness and Discover the God Within”. He writes:
“Since the 1960s a great deal of supernormal or charismatic energy has been released into Western society. Many factors have contributed to this development. The old secular and religious stereotypes have been challenged. Shocks have been administered to ancient institutions… Within the Christian Church a movement which came to be known as the Charismatic Revival came to birth in the transition period of the 1960s. This movement has acted as a catalyst for a great manifestation of energy in churches which for centuries had been locked in stereotyped forms. Over a wide spectrum religious conventions have been shocked into oblivion. The [Charismatic] movement has been characterised by a great proliferation of psychic gifts. Hitherto subservient and conventional congregations have experienced great explosions of energy. Understood to be ‘gifts of the Spirit’, powers of healing, speaking in tongues, clairvoyance and clairaudience have characterised the movement… The break with centuries of conventionalism has undoubtedly achieved a great deal. The weakness of the movement lies in the fact that frequently it has failed to perceive itself to be in a stage of transition and as a result has turned introspectively in upon itself… Various New Age groups have effected similar results from the use of shock techniques. The Findhorn Community…has pioneered the way in this field, organising a great variety of courses bringing thousands of young people into experiential situations designed to release creativity”.Peter Spink, “Beyond Belief: How to Develop Mystical Consciousness and Discover the God Within”, Piatkus, 1996, pp.67-68
My friends, the Charismatic Movement and the Findhorn Community (one of the original New Age communities, which was greatly influenced by Alice Bailey’s disciple, David Spangler, and was originally initiated by a former MI6 operative, Dorothy Maclean) are just two different aspects of the New Age Movement. The Charismatic Movement is simply a Christianised version of the New Age and pagan experiences, pushing altered states of consciousness and the litmus test of subjective emotional experience, whether it likes that description or not.
All those practices of the pagan, New Age and Eastern mystical afficionados have their parallels in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements. All the falling down, mad laughter in church meetings, speaking gobbledygook, going into trances, getting ‘blissed-out’, phony ‘words of knowledge’, and so on are very immature editions of either outright pagan, or New Age, or Eastern mystical activities hiding behind the name of Jesus. In support of this, I would like to highlight that statement by Canon Spink, above, which says: “The weakness of the [Charismatic] movement lies in the fact that frequently it has failed to perceive itself to be in a stage of transition”. What he means by this is that the kind of psychic experiences common in this movement, when they happen in, say, Tibetan Buddhism or Hinduism, they are seen not as ends in themselves to be sought after as the end-experience (as they are in the Charismatic Movement) but merely as stages on a spiritual journey. A so-called ‘Second Blessing’ style experience, the ability to speak gibberish (so-called ‘Tongues’), prophetic pronouncements, ecstatic feelings, even sexual orgasms, falling down, uncontrollable laughter and crying, psychic experiences of clairvoyance and clairaudience are all part and parcel of pagan religion and Eastern mystical practice of one sect or another.
The Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement is therefore regarded by the Eastern yogis of Hinduism and Buddhism (as well as by Canon Spink) as an immature variation of its own practices. Before further examining this parallel between the Charismatic Movement and the pagan/New Age/Eastern mystical mindset more closely, I first want to provide a little Excursus on the dark consequences of deliberately entering altered states of consciousness.
Excursus on the Dark Consequences of Entering
‘Altered States of Consciousness’
As soon as you deliberately open yourself up to an ‘altered state of consciousness’ you lay yourself wide open to interference from the powers of darkness. This is something which is not understood if one is not a disciple of Christ. Outside of Old Testament Israel, all religious practices prior to the coming of Christ existed to make people think that getting “blissed-out” and entering an ‘altered state of consciousness’, or inducing some kind of frenzy à-la-whirling-dervish, is the high spiritual pathway, and that fictitious notion has been passed down to all those engaging in trendy related ‘spiritual’ practices today, such as yoga, meditation, occult practices, sorcery, ingesting psychotropic drugs (e.g. mushrooms, LSD, Ayahuasca, etc.) and various New Age ‘therapies’. But, until Christ came to earth, apart from Old Testament Israel, which was created by God, the heathen religions were Satan’s ‘babies’. [See my article “Satanic Religion from Antiquity to the Present“].
So, as soon as you start exploring psychic dimensions, entering an ‘altered state of consciousness’, you are opening Pandora’s Box to the demonic realm. All those ‘spirit-guides’, the visits from extra-terrestrials, those ‘channelled’ discarnate entities telling you they are from other galaxies or dimensions such as the Arcturians, the Anunnaki and the Pleiadeans, who are claimed to continually provide the ‘channellers’ with information about ‘shifts’, ‘portals’, ‘ascensions’, and other assorted aspects of New Age delusions — they are all demonic manifestations posing as ‘angels of light’ designed to ensnare you in the deep things of Satan. It is all designed to distract people from the truth and keep them languishing on a phony featherbed of lies about love, peace and unity, and the “coming shift” or whatever other rainbow-coloured delusion is the flavour of the day in New Age chic. For the fallen archangel and his cohorts do not come to humans with horns and goats’ hoofs. That is just a sideshow for the few who like to engage in dim-witted darkness. The vast majority of the traps and snares of the satanic realm are beautiful on the outside but utterly unclean on the inside. Those who fall into those snares will either imagine they are being filled with the delusion of experiencing “love and light” (all the while giving themselves over to the influence of satanic lies and illusions) or they will find themselves spiralling downward into a state of hopelessness and despair, which can even lead to actual suicide (a number of cases of which I am very much aware of).
You may ask, at this point, “Why should it only be demons that are encountered in an ‘altered state of consciousness’?” Good question. It is because, in the first place, you are entering their territory. They hang out on a plane that is outside normal human consciousness and they want you in there! They are highly predatory and if they catch you entering their territory, you are giving them free access to your mind, heart and soul. Even on this earthly plane, the world of humans is a dangerous place. But when you enter an altered state of consciousness or practice ‘channelling’, you are moving into doubly-dangerous territory because that is the plane on which demons have unfettered access to the human mind. Their territory is “the air” and Satan is “the ruler of the power of the air” (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 2). The “air” there most likely refers to the etheric envelope which is parallel to the atmosphere surrounding the earth. They are spirit and exist on that spiritual plane. The moment you step outside the material plane by entering an ‘altered state of consciousness’, you have surrendered yourself into their hands, for to enter it would only be done by those who are disobedient. This is also why Satan is referred to in that exact same verse from the Letter to the Ephesians above as “the spirit now energising those who are disobedient”. When you enter their territory, those demons do not come at you with horns breathing fire like dragons; they sidle up to you with seductive words about light and oneness and beautiful things. They are the ultimate in a level of deception which none can resist if they have placed themselves at those demons’ disposal.
Now you may go on to say, “Why wouldn’t I encounter good angels in an ‘altered state of consciousness’?” To which I reply: When you are not bonded with Christ the good angels have no part in your life. It is as simple as that. Therefore the only entities you can possibly encounter in an ‘altered state of consciousness’ are demons, which are the fallen angels. The good unfallen angels have only been tasked to minister to those who are Christ’s disciples. As the sacred text says, the good unfallen angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 14). So I can assure you that if you are not bonded with Christ, then any entities which you encounter in an ‘altered state of consciousness’ will be from the dark side. Added to this, you have no protection if you are not bonded with Christ, because it is not our place to attempt to communicate with angels, period. To do so is disobedience. It is not our place to intrude into the occult dimensions. After all, “the secret things belong to the lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 29, verse 29). We are living in the midst of a spiritual battle of immense proportions. This is what has to be considered when talking about altered states, which is where demons roam waiting for willing prey to intrude on their space.
Then you may say, “So if I become a disciple of Christ can I enter an ‘altered state of consciousness’ and hang out with the good angels?” Most certainly not. You do not need to go to them, for they will come to you, if needed. That is their role: Not to receive you onto their territory but to assist you on yours, if you are Christ’s disciple. The good, unfallen angels will minister to you in whatever way is necessary in your life on behalf of your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, without you having to do anything. It is not our place to seek out discarnate entities. Only those who are ruled by darkness and who are dedicated to the occult would feel the need to do that — to intrude into the forbidden ether.
When you are Christ’s, your calling is simply to lead a devout life, to do good to all, to deny yourself and live for others, to be diligent, to declare the truth unequivocally in a messed-up world of evil, to live in a state of constant prayer, to proclaim Christ whatever the cost to yourself, to expose darkness, to familiarise yourself with God’s word in the sacred texts, and to live each day with all the enthusiasm possible as if it is your last. In the midst of all that, you will grow spiritually and become closer to God each day. There is no need whatsoever to enter a state of altered consciousness in order to seek out discarnate entities or to achieve some phony ‘higher’ level of spirituality. To do so is rooted in pride, leading to spiritual suicide and utter shipwreck.
Here ends the Excursus on the dark consequences of entering ‘altered states of consciousness’. Now to return to examining the parallel between the Charismatic Movement and the pagan/New Age/Eastern mystical mindset.
Releasing Kundalini Energy
Among the leading promoters of the New Age via Eastern mysticism in the U.S. in recent decades was a guru known as Master Da Free John (alias Franklin Albert Jones or Adi Da), a former Lutheran seminarian who headed up a ‘spiritual fellowship’ known as the ‘Johannine Daist Communion’. In his booklet “A Call for a Radical Reformation of Christianity”, Da Free John wrote:
“John says not only that Jesus taught that God is the Living Spirit…but that he taught that the Way to worship God is to worship in the Spirit. That is, Jesus taught a method of worship that involved ecstatic bodily Communion with the Life-Power via breathing and feeling, based on Truth (or an awakened understanding of the Divine Reality)”.Da Free John, “A Call for a Radical Reformation of Christianity”, Dawn Horse Press, 1982, p.28
All this has a great bearing on the experiences being generated in Charismatic-Pentecostal circles today. For the ecstasy and ‘altered state of consciousness’ being induced in these circles is nothing less than a Westernised, Christianised initiation into the world of the New Age and Eastern mysticism. The guru Da Free John, who received initiation into the ‘serpent-power’ of Kundalini Yoga from Swami Rudrananda, advocated precisely the same experience for his devotees, all in counterfeit ‘Christian’ terminology, claiming that
“The ‘Spirit-Power of baptism’ is an esoteric process wherein the Life-Current in the body-mind (and principally the central nervous system) of the human individual is stimulated to a point of profound intensity and turned about in its basic polarization or tendency… The effect of Spirit-baptism was an experience of bodily conversion to a subjective movement of Life-Energy away from the ‘flesh’… As a result of such baptism, the various classical mystical phenomena arose, and this entire procedure was called… ‘to be born again, via the Spirit’”.Ibid., p.29
The intense religious ‘Crisis Experience’ which is being induced in Charismatic-Pentecostal circles is no different to that being induced in countless world religion circles and New Age Communities via what is known as ‘Shaktipat’ — when a guru touches your forehead and you get zapped. Only the terminology is different. As far as the Yogic practitioner, Tantric Buddhist, Neo-Gnostic, Navajo ‘Hand-Trembler’, or Arctic Shaman are concerned, the modern charismatic practices (which are very different to the original New Testament practices laid out in Scripture) are immediately identifiable with their own. Such a “second blessing” and the attendant supernatural occurrences are not only common in these cultures but are counted as something to be eagerly sought after. In the pathway of the Indian mystic on his way to enlightenment, for instance, such psychic powers are known as “Siddhis”. He seeks to achieve a state which is known in Sanskrit as ‘Nirvana’, the literal meaning of which is ‘a blowing-out-of-the-mind’ — hence the psychedelic drug-user’s phrase which refers to having a ‘mind-blowing’ experience. This blowing out of the mind is precisely what the Charismatic phenomenon is all about. I remember charismatic pastor, John Wimber, telling those who attended a conference to “leave your minds at the door”. I have heard an Eastern guru say the same thing: “Leave your mind at the door with your shoes”. These are the facts which account for the huge success of the Charismatic Movement in the less developed countries, where magic, witchcraft, occultism and superstition already hold sway.
The energy being manipulated in Pentecostal/Charismatic/Toronto Blessing/etc. circles today is what is known in Eastern mysticism as Kundalini energy, or Serpent-Power. That is why you can find people in churches writhing about or slithering up staircases with their tongues going in and out like a lizard (as reported in a mail I received from an alarmed subscriber). These people are playing with (occult) fire. (The “Toronto Blessing” was even characterised as “Catching the Fire”). But they have no conception of the dance in which they are involved. To gain a sense of the uncanny parallelism between the psychic powers developed within the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement and those ‘Siddhis’ produced through the pagan practices of Eastern mysticism, compare Ajit Mookerjee, “Kundalini: The Arousal of the Inner Energy”, Thames & Hudson, 1978. The ‘serpent power’ unleashed through Kundalini Yoga is startlingly similar to the ‘power’ which is ‘hyped-up’ in Charismatic meetings and which is sought out in a secondary spirit-baptism. These facts should be opened up when witnessing to Charismatics as they are most afraid of the occult. An undergirding characteristic of the Charismatic Movement is flight from fear through superstitious ritual and the effecting of mass-hypnosis through suggestion and hysteria (mass psychogenic disorder).
Subjective Experience is the Church’s Achilles Heel
The true disciple of Christ could so easily fall into a deep sense of sorrow at this point. Not only has the word “Christian” long fallen into misuse (which is why I prefer the phrase “disciple of Christ”), but the word “evangelical” has also been hijacked from its rightful designation. The full significance of this is shown by the fact that a photograph, in a book on world religion, of a group of people with their eyes closed — arms waving ecstatically in the air — has a caption which describes it as “an evangelical meeting”. [Ninian Smart, “The World’s Religions: Old Traditions and Modern Transformations”, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p.369]. Whatever else that is, such religious behaviour is not representative of genuine evangelicalism but of the New Age, blissed-out baloney in the Charismatic Movement. The word “evangelical” is derived from the Greek words eu, ‘well’ or ‘good’, and angellos, ‘message’. An evangelical is someone who has an ‘excellent message’ to proclaim which involves verbal propositions. An evangelical engages with people’s minds in the world of ideas. To be “evangelical” is to hold spiritual concepts that make things happen, rather than to induce religious experiences that stop people thinking. Even secular wordsmiths know what the word “evangelical” means. The Chambers English Dictionary, for example, defines it as:
“Of the school that insists especially on the total depravity of unregenerate human nature, the justification of the sinner by faith alone, the free offer of the Gospel to all, and the plenary inspiration and exclusive authority of the Bible”.
But the corruption of the ‘Christian’ scene today has reduced all that solid stuff to a mindless, arm-waving ecstasy. Fallen human beings have always preferred spurious religious experiences to genuinely dynamic ideas rooted in truth; and the same tendency has always threatened the Church. There are so many people today who profess to be ‘Christian’, yet who seem to spend their time “in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Book of Acts, chapter 17, verse 21). In other words, they are like loquacious prattlers, always wanting to catch up on the latest religious gossip and spread it abroad. They have become ‘seed-pickers’ — spiritual dilettantes pecking around in the religious and psychological market-places of the world without even realising that they have been duped. Their reliance on subjective experience alone has been their Achilles Heel. All this is not representative of the true Ekklesia of Jesus Christ. When we begin to consider the full implications of the words of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 14, an awesome truth should impale itself upon our hearts: “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it”.
Concluding Thoughts to Part 1
Again, I say, none of this is coincidental. We are on the way towards a global deception of unparalleled proportions, which will surely lead not only to the formation of a one-world government (already in the pipeline) but also to the revealing of the Antichrist. And in the preparation for this, it will be seen that the peculiar antics of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements and where they are heading — not to mention the laughing-stock into which they have made the visible church — will have as much a part to play as theosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, LSD, Cannabis, Hypnosis, Shamanism, New Ageism, power-elites, mind-control, psychological operations, and the worldwide experience of UFOs and ETs, in terms of allowing subjective experience to dictate spiritual perception.
I know these are not popular or comfortable truths. But, having first realised all this when I became a disciple of Christ in the mid-1980s (having previously experienced many of the New Age/Eastern mystical practices along the way), I have seen nothing since to persuade me otherwise. On the contrary. What I have witnessed during the past nearly forty years has only served to support this belief. I only wish it was otherwise. I would dearly love there to be peace in all the churches and a beautiful world, if such a thing was possible. But I anticipate that the devastation of truth we see today will only increase as the age winds down to its close — until the time that the breath of Christ’s mouth and the sword in His hand cleans it all away. “Here is the endurance of the saints, those keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Book of Revelation, chapter 14, verse 12).
Having opened up this Charismatic/Pentecostal can of worms, showing how it is parallel to the psychic explosion in the secular world of New Ageism and Eastern mysticism — before going on to examine the Scriptures on the widespread practice of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ (in Part 3) and those which are alleged to support ‘Spirit Baptism’ (in Part 4) — I would now like to demonstrate unequivocally, in Part 2 of this paper, how the Shamanic-Mesmeric ‘Crisis Experience’ induced by powerful suggestion techniques in Charismatic/Pentecostal environments, known as the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” leading to the widespread practice of speaking in so-called ‘Tongues’, has nothing whatsoever to do with the authentic experience of a true disciple of Christ.
The Cultic ‘Crisis Experience’ of the
Pentecostal/ Charismatic Movement
The ‘Crisis Experience’ that many people claim gives rise to ‘The Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ as an additional experience which supposedly happens after being “born from above” (which they claim is supposed to give rise to the experience of speaking in ‘Tongues’ as evidence of it) is nothing less than ‘Mesmerism’, pure and simple — the manipulation of weak and gullible minds by pretended leaders who wield great influence. Consider this description of a session in occultist Anton Mesmer’s clinic in the late eighteenth century:
“Mesmer marched about majestically… passing his hands over the patients’ bodies or touching them with a long iron wand. The results varied. Some patients felt nothing at all, some felt as if insects were crawling over them, others were seized with hysterical laughter, convulsions or fits of hiccups. Some went into raving delirium, which was called ‘The Crisis’ and was considered extremely healthful”.Richard Cavendish, “The Magical Arts”, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, p.180
That description could easily have been about what happens in many churches today, especially those which were influenced by the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ in the 1990s and its many subsequent offshoots which “caught the fire” (to use their own catchphrase) and have now resulted in so much worldwide madness. In R.B. Ince’s book, “Three Famous Occultists” — demonstrating that Mesmer is regarded by experts as an ‘occultist’ — a contemporary record of Mesmer’s clinics by the historian Auguste Bailly gives a similar portrayal of his manipulative sessions:
“Some are calm, tranquil and experience no effect. Others cough, spit, feel slight pains, local or general heat, and have sweatings. Others, again, are agitated and tormented with convulsions. These convulsions are remarkable in regard to the number affected with them, to their duration and force. They are preceded and followed by a state of languor or reverie… Patients experienced more or less violent perspiration, palpitations, hysterics, catalepsy, and sometimes a condition resembling epilepsy. When the crisis was at its height, the patient was carried by attendants into one of the adjoining ‘Salles de Crises’ [Crisis Rooms]; he was there laid on a couch, and usually he subsided gradually into a deep sleep from which he awoke refreshed and benefitted”.R.B. Ince, “Three Famous Occultists”, Gilbert Whitehead, 1939, pp.87-88
It is the rooting of Pentecostal/Charismatic phenomena in this Mesmeric morass of occult-hypnotic phenomena that I want to pursue in this part of the paper.
The Unique Practices of these Movements
are Occult-Hypnotic Phenomena
Although its practitioners are ignorant of the fact, variations of this ‘Mesmeric Crisis’ are being repeated in Pentecostal/Charismatic meetings throughout the world today, where it is often accompanied by a hypnotic ‘swoon’ known as being ‘slain in the spirit’. The ecstatic religious experience known deceptively in Christian circles as ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ or being ‘Slain by the Spirit’ and its (usually) accompanying experience of babbling in gobbledygook ‘Tongues’ are intimately caught up with such occult hypnotic phenomena. All this highly theatrical kerfuffle comes about as the result of powerful suggestion from an influential leader/teacher. It is essentially an unwitting ‘Initiation’ into Mystery Religion — an experience that is available to anyone who is open to receive it, of whatever religious persuasion, and it has as much to do with the spirituality of Jesus Christ as a Dionysian rite or the Pythia of Delphi!
One of the major concerns about the Charismatic-Pentecostal Movement is that an untold number of people within its ranks who believe that they are Christians may never have experienced a genuine metanoic transformation. Very often, people are counted as having been ‘saved’ if they have merely had hands laid on them by someone praying over them in the ecstatic-babbling style of ‘Tongues’ (often while attempting to ‘exorcise’ demons from them), which has resulted in certain physical sensations (e.g., heat, tingling flesh, falling down, etc.) followed by a display of the same style of ‘Tongues-speaking’ which they consider to be evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. That phenomenon can certainly be classified as a ‘psycho-mystical’ or ‘Mesmeric’ experience — or even a Neo-Gnostic experience — but it is not an evidence of the new birth in the power of the Holy Spirit, as I will unequivocally demonstrate in Parts 3 and 4 of this paper..
Way back in 1784 — long before the present-day Charismatic Movement was even a twinkle in Satan’s eye — the King of France appointed a Commission to examine the claims of Franz Mesmer, consisting of reports from two reputable medical bodies: the Faculty of Medicine of the Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of Medicine. How perceptive it was for this Commission to come to the following conclusion:
“That man can act upon man at any time, and almost at will by striking his imagination; that the simplest gestures and signs can have the most powerful effects; and that the action of man upon the imagination may be reduced to an art, and conducted with method, upon subjects who have faith”.R.B. Ince, “Three Famous Occultists”, Gilbert Whitehead, 1939, pp.107-108
This is the essence of the ‘Crisis Experience’ being generated in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles today, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the experience of a genuine disciple of Christ but has everything to do with Shamanism, Mesmerism, hypnotic suggestion and mass psychogenic disorder. When Anton Mesmer discovered, in the late eighteenth century, the occult elements that shamans have known for millennia, the seeds of Western psychotherapy were sown — a fact which is confirmed by the claim of a prominent psychiatrist in an issue of the prestigious Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:
“What is important is the impact and influence [Mesmer] had on the subsequent development of psychiatry. It would indeed be no exaggeration to say that he was one of the world’s first psychotherapists”.“Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine”, Vol.85, no.7, July 1992, p.383
And it is Mesmer’s crude form of manipulative hypnotherapy which is being practised by the ‘deliverance ministries’ and ‘healing’ crusades of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement, through which the strong suggestions of a powerful teacher can turn the lives of the gullible inside-out. One trainer of psychotherapists said that “most of the techniques in different types of psychotherapy are nothing more than hypnotic phenomena”. [Richard Bandler and John Grinder, “Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming”, Real People Press, 1979, p.100]. Like the Christian ‘visualisers’ of the ‘Health ’n Wealth’ / ‘Name it and Claim it’ style of Churchianity, the healers and deliverance pedlars have also not understood that there is a vast gulf between the work of the Son of God and the sorcery of the sundry shamans of this world.
Speaking of sundry shamans, here are a couple of examples of the way that “man can act upon man at any time, and almost at will by striking his imagination; that the simplest gestures and signs can have the most powerful effects” (as the King of France’s commission said above). In this first clip is the ‘Big Daddy’ charismatic pastor, Kenneth Hagin, causing some effects in his congregation: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/vnjx1nVGFYo . In this second clip, we see Kenneth Hagin ‘blow’ on Kenneth Copeland who immediately jumps to his feet and goes crazy, followed by the rest of the thousands in the hall going crazy too: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/IQgjKOBWPQ8 . That clip is entitled “Move of God” and “Explosion in the Holy Ghost”. Would this be blasphemy? These are megachurch congregations. These two men between them have probably been the most powerful influences on the Charismatic Movement. Does this kind of filth have anything whatsoever to do with the spirituality of Jesus Christ or the power of the Holy Spirit? Of course not. Someone said to me once that I was ‘quenching the Spirit’ by saying this kind of thing. My reply was that if that stuff is really what is meant by the spirituality of Jesus Christ or the power of the Holy Spirit, then I do not want any part in it, for purity and cleanliness are all I want to know.
A Dinner Date with Anton Mesmer
We have already seen how the Pentecostal/Charismatic induced ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ or the so-called ‘slain in the spirit’ rigmarole and the resultant episode of ‘Tongues’-speaking is a Christianised version of the ‘Crisis Experience’ which was practised by Anton Mesmer. This is the case whoever is performing it. There are so many churches and organisations which engage in these kinds of activity. Let us take one example: The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (F.G.B.F.I.), which has specialised from its inception in the inducement of these experiences. It is nothing less than a dinner-date with Anton Mesmer. For those not familiar with the F.G.B.F.I., which has branches all over the world, it holds regular evangelistic dinners in a hired hall, to which people invite their neighbours, workmates, friends, etc. After the dinner has been eaten, people give emotive testimonies about what Jesus is alleged to have done for them (usually involving spectacular effects), followed by an invitation to come to the front of the room for ‘healing’ and ‘deliverance ministry’. Those who do so will find themselves in a queue known as a ‘prayer-line’, waiting for one of the leaders to ‘lay hands’ on them in order to induce the above-mentioned ‘Crisis Experience’.
This is a very common methodology used in the invoking of such mystical experiences and in the inducing of people to speak in the ecstatic-babble style of ‘Tongues’ used today. The use of the term “Full Gospel” refers to the fact that these folks regard a Christian who does not show evidence of the Holy Spirit through speaking in ‘Tongues’ as having not received the Gospel ‘in full’. In the view of these people, if you do not speak in what they call ‘tongues’, you are an inferior grade of Christian and may not even be saved. [For details of a complete F.G.B.F.I. session, read Don Basham’s checklist hypno-recommendations, “Spiritual Power: How to Get it – How to Give it!”, Whitaker House, 1976, 89pp]. As an example of the crude technique used to induce this experience in Christian circles, consider the following account in a popular Charismatic book:
“When people have asked for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in prayer-lines in many countries of the world, I have simply instructed them to start repeating the word “Blood”, and within a matter of seconds they have begun to speak in ‘Tongues’. Usually I then call over another worker and suggest that he or she praise God with them so that they do not stop speaking in ‘Tongues’. They are now entering another spiritual dimension, and it is wonderfully strange! It is important that they do not begin to doubt at this point. I then go on to the next one in line and begin all over again”.H.A. Maxwell Whyte, “The Power of the Blood”, Whitaker House, 1973, p.83
That “another spiritual dimension” referred to there is the ‘altered state of consciousness’ to which I have been referring above. These folks seem to have no realisation that they are using the power of suggestion and the use of hypnotic techniques (or maybe some do!). Repeating the word “Blood” is the trigger there. In the introduction to Don Basham’s book “Spiritual Power: How To Get It – How To Give It!”, we are told that the kernel of his message involves a set of ‘simple instructions’ in the fifth chapter which is virtually guaranteed to induce the so-called ‘Spirit Baptism’ experience. If only spiritual growth was really that easy! Checklist conversion! What such an experience does is to hoodwink professing ‘Christians’ into a state of perpetual spiritual pride and confusion. This is why people who have received this so-called ‘Baptism’ spend so much of their time going round telling others about it and trying to get them to have it too. In this, the work of Satan is manifest. For the work of the Holy Spirit is to ‘testify of Jesus’, not to glorify Himself (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 26; chapter 16:14-15).
The ‘Spirit-Baptism’ Tacky Formula in Action
As an example of how the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is induced in people by suggestion and religious pressure, here is a YouTube video of a pastor who pitched up in the grounds outside the church where the so-called “Asbury Revival” has been happening (which I will hopefully address in another article), because these suspect ‘revival’ episodes always attract all manner of snake-oil salespeople coming from around the world who are cashing in on the delusion, and he began trying to induce the secondary “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” in the little crowd around him using typical hypnotic techniques and a completely false translation of a verse in the Book of Acts, chapter 19 (about which there is more in Part 3 of this paper). The YouTube link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOErYqGWstc . One should always be suspicious of those who keep prodding at you with a bible (especially when what he is trying to do is not even biblical!). You will see this pastor using all the classic methods of trying to induce this occult-hypnotic experience complete with the hapless folks swooning at the end, after much persuasion from him. Once you’ve learned to do it, you can repeat it again and again. It’s a cheap checkpoint technique. A tacky formula. Period.
One thing I will just say here about the Asbury so-called ‘revival’, as it is relevant to my overall message in this paper. A vast number of people have travelled to the spot in Kentucky where all this ‘revival’ is said to be happening. Someone then drew on a map (see below) some lines showing the countries from where all those who travelled there came (see map below). Why would people do that? Apparently, it is supposed to be in order to ‘plug in’ to the alleged ‘work of the Spirit’, as if it works like a virus or other contagion — which is very much like the New Age idea of ‘portals’. What crazy thinking. If God wants you for His own, He will come to you without fail. If you want to draw near to God and enjoy His Spirit, He will come to you without fail. In fact, He is already everywhere and anywhere. The thought that you have to travel to a particular geographical location to ‘grab some God’ or ‘get the Spirit’ is a ridiculous idea.
Why is it necessary to go across lands and oceans to bring the Holy Spirit to your church? This is the Spirit of Almighty God of whom one is speaking — the One who “blows where He wishes” (Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 8) and who already abides in every true disciple of Christ. What kind of a ‘god’ is it that can be harnessed in such a way that we can infallibly bring some pyrotechnics to our churches by hopping on a plane? This ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ idea of the Holy Spirit as some kind of ‘genie-in-a-bottle’ that one can transport across the world to bring some action into one’s own area or church is a most profane concept. If the Lord wishes to fan the flames of genuine growth in your church, I can assure you that He will do so in His own way and in His own time.
I have known many New Age folks who would travel to a geographical location, such as the crossing point of alleged leylines, a circle of standing stones, or other purported ‘portal’, where they can ‘tune in to the energies’ and get some of it to bolster themselves spiritually, like taking a drug. But a devout disciple of Christ has no need for any of that nonsense. S/he knows that a heartfelt prayer is enough for the Spirit to be right there as the Paraclete — literally the ‘called-alongside-One’, ‘Helper’, ‘Advocate’, ‘Counsellor’ (as parakletos has been translated from the Greek; see the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verse 14). That is His nature — to be alongside — to be right there. In fact, He is there continually. But if you want to draw especially close, then that prayer is all that is necessary. No need to travel across the world to ‘get a fix’, as a junkie would say.
When you see phenomena like the inducement to speak in ‘Tongues’ or have a ‘Spirit-baptism’ experience (and this is also very clear from reading Don Basham’s transcript), you realise that people are being ‘psyched-up’ with a heady cocktail of suggestion and a massively exaggerated sense of expectancy and tension-building (often in a long queue), to undergo a mighty emotional experience of trance-ecstasy — an experience of tension-release to such an extent that there is a liberation of powerful forces which can manifest either as a feeling of great euphoria (often accompanied by yelps and laughter) or desperately uncomfortable hysteria (often accompanied by screams and convulsions). These same phenomena are repeated in many Pentecostal/Charismatic situations — all manufactured in the heavy hothouse atmosphere of emotional manipulation. Yet, and this is what they need to understand, it is all identical to what took place in Anton Mesmer’s ‘Salles des Crises’.
‘Slain in the Spirit’ = Hindu/Buddhist ‘Shaktipat’
Such special effects have been generated in pagan religions throughout history through the use of repetitive prayer (mantras), powerful suggestion from a dominant teacher (Shaman), dancing (for example, Dervishism), meditation (especially the Kundalini variety) and hallucinogenic drugs. I have seen the same technique (and the same results) occurring within the context of a meditation session led by the self-styled Indian guru Shree Bhagwan Rajneesh (aka OSHO, whose followers were aften known as the ‘Orange People’), in which he would touch devotees on the forehead with a Hindu and Buddhist gesture which is known in Sanskrit as ‘Shaktipat’, which supposedly involves an initiation via ‘energy transfer’ of so-called ‘god consciousness’ (though that is all based on hypnotic delusion). In Charismatic-Pentecostal circles, many similar methods to induce such an experience are used, although they are dressed up in ‘Christian’ clothing, e.g., repetitive, endless singing of trite choruses, invocation of the Spirit, powerful emotional suggestion from a dominant leader, the laying on of hands, etc. Whether it is Shaktipat or the Pentecostal/Charismatic ‘slain in the spirit’ routine, it is all pure Mesmerism — the generation of hypnosis and trance through powerful suggestion. Nowhere is this deception and manipulation more apparent today than in the theatrical ritual performed at Charismatic gatherings which is referred to as being ‘slain in the spirit’, in which a person will fall backwards to the floor in an induced swoon, often after being ‘touched’ (some would say pushed) by an influential teacher.
It is worth remembering that in the Bible it is only God’s enemies who fall backwards when confronted with His naked spiritual power (e.g., Gospel of John, chapter 18, verse 6; cf. Book of Isaiah, chapter 28, verse 13); whereas the Lord’s true people always fall forwards on their faces in awestruck adoration and worship (e.g., Book of Genesis, chapter 17, verse 3; Book of Joshua, chapter 5, verse 14; Book of Ezekiel, chapter 1, verse 28; Chapter 44, verse 4; Book of Daniel, chapter 8, verse 17; Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17, verses 5-6; Book of Revelation, chapter 7, verse 11; chapter 11, verse 16). But true spirituality is not something which can be sought out by simply going to a meeting and plugging into an experience. It is in this sense that the Charismatic Movement can be said to be very much a part of the New Gnosticism, with its mysticism, superstition, elitest ‘higher life’ teachings, disdain of the intellect and emphasis on the development of ‘extraordinary’ mind-powers.
Perhaps, at this point, you will want to ask me this question: “If being ‘slain in the spirit’ in a Pentecostal or Charismatic church or undergoing similar pyrotechnics is not only a Christian experience, how come I had such a great sense of peace when it happened to me?” The fact that a person has a general sense of wellbeing after an experience in no way proves that it is from the Lord, or that it is conducive to spiritual growth and discipleship. The objective validity of an experience can never be measured by the subjective feelings associated with it. Psycho-religious activities often create what is known as an ‘alpha-wave’ brain state, or a major release of endorphins or oxytocin, in which a person will have an experience of great euphoria. But this in no way proves that one is ‘resting in the Holy Spirit’, as many would put it, because this same state can be reproduced in Yogic meditation, occult rituals, an opium den, or even a pub!
It is most unlikely that the pleasant sensations which occur in the wake of the Pentecostal-Charismatic ‘slain in the spirit’ experience have anything whatever to do with the Holy Spirit, because God does not bless disobedience. Such phenomena not only have no biblical pedigree, but they have been entirely absent in gatherings of genuine disciples down the ages, having only ever been practised among mystery religions, mystical orders, shamanistic cults, and pagan sects. It was not until the revivalist excesses of the so-called ‘Holiness Movement’ in the latter half of the 19th century that such phenomena began to seduce professing Christians en masse into their powerful wake.
The fact that you feel so high after having indulged in antichristian psycho-religious experiences merely shows that Satan has performed a consummate work in your life. For that is his aim with the millions upon millions of gullible folks who claim to be ‘Christians’ in the world today: to give them a ‘hands-on feel-good’ experience while introducing them to a welter of ‘Christianised’ occult techniques and practices. What so many today fail to understand is that when Satan determines to deceive professing ‘Christians’, he comes as an angel of light rather than the prince of darkness (see, e.g. Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 14). When you understand how Satan really operates, you will realise that an occult or demonic experience need not be one of spine-tingling horror but is much more likely to fill you with feelings of joy and release. Satan is the master of the ‘buzz’ – the religious and psychological high; and he is exercising his craft today in the churches on a massive scale.
How easily bewitched professing ‘Christians’ are today! It is not on any subjective physical or emotional experiences that a disciple should base his or her sense of peace but, rather, on the objective fact of his having been reconciled to God through Christ. There is a vast difference between ‘feelings’ of peace and actually knowing that peace has been made. The first is an artificial peace based on subjective experience, while the latter is a true peace rooted in the objective work of Christ. The world will offer you an earthbound peace which is either the space between two wars or the illusion of bliss (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 27). But Christ will bring about an actual condition of peace which is permanent and spiritual — a state which persists, even in times of affliction, and regardless of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we may feel. As some wise words written in a former era well say:
“While we must fight together throughout this life under the cross, our condition is harsh and wretched…. For this reason we ought to know that the happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!”
Understanding this mighty fact is the key to true growth, which does not come through psychological catharsis, but through obedience to God’s word (First Letter of Peter, chapter 2, verses 1-3) and the hard road of suffering and adversity (Letter to the Romans, chapter 5, verses 3-4). Disciples of Christ are exiles in a hostile world, but their joy comes through knowing that they have an abundance of heavenly treasures. If your peace and joy comes from being ‘slain in the spirit’ — or undergoing any other psycho-religious experience — then you have no conception of the heavenly life, and are merely laying up for yourself vain treasures on earth.
Concluding Thoughts to Part 2
One should not lightly dismiss this connection between the Charismatic-Pentecostal Movement and the pagan/New Age/Eastern mystical scene. Despite the fact that many Charismatics strenuously oppose the New Age Movement and Eastern mysticism on paper, they have unquestioningly accepted many of its practices without realising the folly of their endeavour — as can be seen from our studies earlier in this chapter. We can also call it a Christianised form of Shamanism; for that is what is being pursued today by a number of the well-known teachers in the Charismatic-Pentecostal Movement. Central to all forms of Shamanism are the practices of “suggestion, hypnosis, [and] guided imagery”, which were used “for centuries before they were rediscovered by modern psychologists”. [Fritjof Capra, “The Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture”, Flamingo Collins, 1982, p.337]. Parallel to this is the fact that shamanistic religion involves “the belief in evil spirits peopling air, sea and earth, promoters of evil and authors of disease, and the respect paid to the shamans who control them”. [“Chambers’s Encyclopaedia”, George Newnes, 1963, Vol. VIII, p.258]. This controlling, sorcerous, superstitious, demon-obsessed Charismatic religion — with its phony ‘deliverance ministries’, its fake healing ministries, and its cult of the personality in its leaders — is nothing other than Westernised, Christianised Shamanism. When we add to this the fact that in all forms of magic “the methods adopted are usually quite simple and rely mainly on auto-suggestion for their results” [Ibid., p.792], we begin to piece together a startling explanation for so many developments in the increasingly apostate visible church of today.
In Parts 3 and 4, I will open all this up by examining in great detail the phenomenon of ‘Tongues’ and the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’, comparing what is being practised within the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements with what the Bible clearly teaches.
The Gift of ‘Languages’ (not ‘Tongues’!)
The very word “Tongues” itself conjures up a highly-charged, almost mystical image in the minds of so many Christians today. But what does the Bible reveal? Here, in Part 3 of this paper, is an extended survey of the true meaning of ‘Tongues’ and its place in the life of the church and in that of the disciple of Christ.
The spiritual gift referred to in the New Testament which people refer to as ‘Tongues’ can be translated literally as “varieties of languages”. (As the central focus of this part of the paper is the speaking of ‘Tongues’, I will not be discussing in detail all of the spiritual gifts which are mentioned in the New Testament). In the time when the King James Version was written, the word “tongue” — the word which has come most to be associated with this gift — meant an identifiable human language. And an in-depth study of the Greek word glossa, strangely translated as the archaic word “tongue” in many Bible versions, shows that it must refer to an identifiable human language of actual ethnic origin (see, for example, Book of Revelation, chapter, 5, verse 9; chapter 7, verse 9; chapter 10, verse 11; chapter 11, verse 9; chapter 13, verse 7; chapter 14, verse 6; chapter 17, verse 15). It must surely be a sign of kowtowing cowardice so as not to offend the billion or so Pentecostals and Charismatics in the world that almost all the mainstream Bible translations (with the exception of the NET Bible, International Standard Version, and the Good News Bible) still use the obsolete English word “tongues” for the Greek word glōssais. If you substitute the phrase “varieties of languages” for “tongues” in your Bible, you will see that it opens up a wholly new dimension of what this gift was really all about and takes away the appalling ‘woo-woo’ which has come to be associated with the word ‘tongues’.
When we look for clear texts elsewhere in the New Testament which will provide us with examples of this gift in action, we see that it indeed functioned as the supernatural ability to speak in previously unlearned, identifiable human ethnic languages. It had nothing whatsoever to do with gobbledygook or a “private prayer language”, as is claimed today. In our search for such a text, we find that The Book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 1-13, for example, gives us a superb practical model of the biblical gift of “varieties of languages”.
However, there is not a scrap of evidence in Scripture which would support the notion that the biblical gift of ‘Tongues’ (or gift of ‘Languages’, as it should be known) involved the commonplace ecstatic babbling which one can witness across the world, in Christian and non-Christian circles alike. Such babbling has been a hallmark of heathen religion from the beginning of time. It is an intrinsic part of human psycho-physiology to be able to enter such a state of mind. Christians, as partakers in the same flesh, are not exempt from the ability to reproduce this experience. It is actually an incipient trance-like condition brought on through powerful suggestion or auto-suggestion, in which there is increased Alpha-Wave activity of the brain (which is why the modern form of ‘Tongues-speakers’ usually feel so good when they do it), coupled with a stimulation of the part of the brain which governs articulate speech, known as “Broca’s area”.
I am now going to show you a sample of the kind of ‘Tongues’-speaking lunacy one can witness in Charismatic gatherings. This is from the YouTube channel called Holy Koolaid, which is maintained by a sceptic and the sight of this type of people only makes his scepticism worse while bringing the faith into disrepute. The enormous size of the crowd laughing along with all this is also horrendous. Of course, this ‘Tongues’ banter between Rodney Howard-Browne and Kenneth Copeland will have been unintelligible to both of them, despite them pretending to understand each other. It is pure showmanship. But these are highly influential people. Believe it or not they have a following of countless millions across the world and have been at this for many decades. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdHnlGyF4IY . Now you may say that this is an extreme version of ‘Tongues’-speaking. But that is only because they are in Christian showbusiness that it seems like that. The same kind of gibberish is spoken by all other ‘Tongues’-speakers but not so ostentatiously. I saw a comment on a YouTube ‘tongues’ video today which said:
“I remember my parents tried out a Pentecostal church when I was young. People began ‘acting in the spirit’ by speaking in tongues and falling down etc and it terrified me so much I hid under a pew in tears. Watching adults, the people I was taught to trust and respect, all acting like lunatics with a shared delusion… was horrible for my psyche at the time”.
This is why I maintain that to take a family with children into a Pentecostal or Charismatic environment is child abuse. Speaking of child abuse, I saw another YouTube video of a woman who actually teaches children to speak this gobbledygook. You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZQ3IbQBAJY . She tries to answer the question, “How do I know if my tongues-speaking is real or fake?” I ask you honestly, is there anything remotely spiritual about this woman’s entire presentation? Let’s face it, it’s all fake! Truly, we have lost the way so much. Such a huge part of the church involving more than a billion people has gone ‘away with the fairies’. I believe this is all part of the great apostasy; and this is only the beginning.
Such an experience of speaking gibberish has been generated in pagan religions throughout history through the use of repetitive prayer or chanting (mantras), powerful suggestion from an influential teacher (Shamanism), wild dancing (Dervishism), meditation (varieties of Yoga) and psychotropic drugs (remember that the word “pharmacology” is actually derived from the Greek word for sorcerer, pharmakos). All that stuff is about entering an altered state of consciousness, which is entirely different from the phenomenon which is described in the Book of Acts, chapters 2, 8, 10, & 19, and bears no relation whatsoever to the spiritual gift of ‘languages’ mentioned in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12.
I can just imagine these words being spoken right now (as they have been to me on a number of occasions): “But weren’t the disciples ‘drunk in the spirit’ at Pentecost in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles?” No, they most certainly were not! Moreover, to compare the behaviour of those who are so-called ‘slain in the spirit’ in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches today with the miraculous event recorded in the Book of Acts, chapter 2, shows a complete misunderstanding of what was taking place.
This was the inauguration of the New Testament Church. Is it at all feasible that God would have his disciples behave like a band of town drunks at a time when establishing the humour and integrity of the Church was all important? Those disciples were “declaring the wonders of God” (v. 11), not exhibiting the kind of religious phenomena which could be found in the many pagan and mystery religions abounding in the Mediterranean countries in those days. If the disciples at the gathering at Pentecost in the Book of Acts, chapter 2, had been behaving like the lunatics we see in many churches of today, then this would have made the Ekklesia indistinguishable from those fanatical pagan cults and would have brought the faith into disrepute.
It is true that some of the bystanders (and it was only some) said that the disciples seemed to be “drunk on new wine” (v. 13). But this was purely by way of mockery and had no substance to it. They were simply trying to ridicule the disciples in a spirit of unbelief. For this reason, it would be most unreliable to base our understanding of the disciples’ behaviour on the taunts of such mockers. Their gibes about drunkenness cannot possibly have been because the disciples were falling to the floor, or laughing hysterically, or grinning inanely, or uttering gibberish, or crowing like cockerels, or roaring like lions, or waving their arms in the air, or holding their quaking hands out in front of them, such as happens to those stricken in Charismatic style gatherings. Such unruly and disreputable behaviour at that delicate moment of Church history would have undermined everything which was being founded and established.
The speaking of this variety of actual ethnic languages was a manifest reversal of the confounding judgment which took place at the Tower of Babel (Book of Genesis, chapter 11, verses 1-9), as I will show in a later section of this paper. It was sounding forth that great truth that there is neither ‘Jew nor Greek…in Christ Jesus’, and was a figurative representation of the ‘all nations’ composition of the New Jerusalem. To cite the God-honouring events of the Book of Acts, chapter 2, in support of quasi-drunken behaviour in church services of today is not only in defiance of Paul’s dictum that all things should be ‘done decently and in order’ (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 40), but it also makes a mockery of the fact that to be filled with the Spirit is diametrically opposed to the state of drunkenness (see Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, verse18).
So let us now really open this up by showing some essential elements in the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, as it is the level of ignorance in this area which has given rise to the dysfunctional manifestations which we can observe today.
1) Revelation and Sign-Gifts
Here it would be relevant to show that the spiritual gift of “varieties of languages” was given by God primarily to function as a “sign”. The epoch of Church history known as the Apostolic era was an extraordinary time of development. The Mosaic order was giving way to the age of the New Covenant; the God-ordained, theocratic nation-state of Israel was being wound up for the final time, as it would no longer be relevant to the needs of a maturing people of God; the Gentile nations were being opened up to the Gospel in an unprecedented fashion; and there was a need for fresh revelation after four hundred years of silence in the intertestamental period.
At this point in history, God gave four spiritual gifts which served a unique purpose during a time of great change in the foundation of the Ekklesia. First, there was the gift of prophecy, by which Divine revelation was given “piecemeal” to the primitive Church at a time when the written New Testament revelation was still incomplete. Then there were “gifts of healings”, “workings of miracles”, and “varieties of languages” — all of which are said to have functioned as “signs”.
The word “sign” in Scripture is a translation of the Greek word semeion , from which our English words semeiology (study of symptoms) and semaphore (signalling apparatus) are derived. A “sign” in Scripture refers to something which is signalling a matter of great significance to whoever witnesses it. For example, in the course of the Gospel of John, the Apostle presents to his readers seven “signs” which were performed by Jesus (Gospel of John, chapter 2, verses 1-11; chapter 4, verses 46-54; chapter 5, verses 1-18; chapter 6, verses 1-14; chapter 6, verses 15-25; chapter 9, verses 1-41; chapter 11, verses 1-46) and “many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book” to convince them “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 30-31).
Signs always have a vital function. In the Apostolic era, “signs” were either for the purposes of authentication of the fact that the Messiah had come, or they were judicial in character — a fact which I will develop more fully below in relation to the use of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’). Such “signs” were predominantly directed at the Jews, whose nation-state, together with its ceremonial and legal system, was about to be wound up — the final hammer-blow being the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. (To understand more about the final significance of that event and to show how the Israel of the Bible was very different to the counterfeit nation-state of Israel today, please read my free-to-download eBook “Abraham our Father: Jerusalem our Mother”).
The nature and purpose of the “sign-gifts”, as we can call them, can be gleaned from a number of places in the sacred texts. One such passage is the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verses 17-18. Some expositors, in a well-meaning bid to negate the common Pentecostal teaching that all professing ‘Christians’ will speak in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’), cast out demons and practise healing, have held that this final passage of Mark’s Gospel is not authentic. But there is no need at all to resort to such radical surgery with God’s word in order to prove this point. Almost every available Greek manuscript contains this passage, whereas it is lacking only in the more suspect codices of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. Furthermore, John Burgon has adequately proven the authenticity of this passage in a work that has never been answered since it first appeared in the nineteenth century [see Jay P. Green (ed.), John W. Burgon: The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to Mark , Vol. I of “Unholy Hands on the Bible” (Sovereign Grace Trust Fund, 1990; first published in 1871), pp.C1-C177].
The main problem with that entire section of the Gospel of Mark has always been its consistent mistranslation and the misinterpretation which then results from that (as is very often the case in matters like this). When the majority of translations say, “And these signs will follow those who believe…” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 17), we are led to assume that the verse is referring to all those who believe of whatever era. But the tense of the verb ”believe” here is actually aorist, which indicates that the phrase is really saying, “these signs will follow those who have already believed” — in this context, that refers to the Apostles. This verse looks back to earlier verses, where reference is made to a contrasting unbelief on the part of the Apostles (see verses 11,13,14 in that chapter 16). Verses 15 and 16 are a parenthetical statement of the Great Commission. In any case, the signs referred to here cannot possibly be applicable to everyone who has believed as there is a reference to an immunity from normally-fatal snake bites and the ability to drink poison unharmed — qualities which are hardly universal in their ecclesiastical application! We do know for certain of at least one instance where a genuine Apostle of Christ was unharmed by the bite of a deadly snake (Book of Acts, chapter 28, verses 3-6). This brings us to an important aspect of any discussion on the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’); and it is this…
2) The Signs of an Apostle
In fact, the signs being referred to in the passage in Mark are some of the “signs of an Apostle” to which Paul refers in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12. Just as God had set out certain infallible ways in Old Testament times for testing whether or not a prophet was true or false (Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 13, verses 1-3; chapter 18, verses 20-22), so He also declared certain “signs” which would enable New Testament disciples of Christ to distinguish between a true and a false apostle. These signs of an Apostle of Christ consisted of those things listed in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verses 14-15 and chapter 16, verses 17-18 (healing, ‘Tongues’-speaking, casting out of demons, etc.), plus the working of miracles (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12; Letter to the Romans, chapter 15, verse 19), prophecy (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, verses 40-41; Book of Acts, chapter 5, verses 3-9; chapter 13, verses 6-12; chapter 14, verses 8-10) and, most important to our present study, the unique ability to distribute these revelation and sign gifts to others (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 2, verse 4).
The only means that God has used for distributing the “revelation” or “sign” gifts to others in the New Testament era is through the mediation of the unique Apostles of Jesus Christ who were the foundation of the Church (Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 14). These gifts and abilities — ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’), prophecy, the casting out of demons, healing and miracle-working — were imparted to disciples by the laying on of hands of the Apostles. There is no account in Scripture of anyone receiving a ‘revelation/sign’ gift other than through the distribution of one of the original Apostles. (The Gentile, Cornelius, was a special case — although an Apostle was certainly present, having been specially sent to preach the Gospel to him. Some also cite Timothy as an exception, in the First Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 14. However, this does not refer to Timothy himself receiving the gift of prophecy, but to the office of Pastor being conferred upon him by the laying on of hands of the eldership, as the result of a prophetic revelation).
A number of people are spoken of as having received these gifts through this unique imparting by Apostolic ministry. Stephen and Philip both had Apostolic hands laid on them and thereby were given the gift of miracle-working (Book of Acts, chapter 6, verses 5-8; chapter 8, verse 6). Barnabas, who had been renamed by Apostolic decree (Book of Acts, chapter 4, verse 36) and probably had Apostolic hands laid on him when he was sent to Antioch (Book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 22), and was given the gift of prophecy (Book of Acts, chapter 13, verse 1). Furthermore, Paul spent eighteen months establishing the Corinthian church (Book of Acts, chapter 18, verse 11), during which he authenticated his Apostleship with signs and wonders (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verses 4-5; Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12), and distributed gifts to others there as part of his Apostolic office, so that they lacked none of them (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 5-7). So it is hardly surprising that there was such a broad manifestation of these gifts in Corinth.
There is a particular proof that these gifts could only be received through the agency of an Apostle of Christ. When we are shown that Paul authenticated his Apostleship to the Corinthians by appealing to his “signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12), we can also deduce that none in the Corinthian church could have received any of the revelatory/sign gifts other than by the distribution of an Apostle. For, if they had the ability to prophesy, to execute miracles or healings, or to speak in Tongues, without Apostolic mediation, then the performance of such signs and wonders and mighty works would be no proof of Apostleship!
That such gifts were distributed by the exclusive mediation of the Apostles was certainly not lost on Simon the Sorcerer. This was why he preferred to “buy” that Apostolic ability to impart the revelatory/sign gifts of the Spirit to others rather than have the mere capacity to work miracles (see the Book of Acts, chapter 8, verses 17-19). To be a false apostle would amass far more power and authority than merely being a false miracle-worker! It is precisely for this reason that a right understanding of the unique nature of the Apostleship is fundamental to “getting it right” about the claims of many regarding healings, prophecies, miracle-working and so-called ‘Tongues’.
There is considerable confusion today on this question of the Apostleship. When, as a pastor, I heard a young woman asked what she was hoping to do when she completed her studies at a Bible College, she said: “I haven’t made up my mind yet whether to be an Apostle or a composer” . In the face of such grave widespread ignorance, a right understanding of these matters is of the utmost importance. Many Bible Colleges have much to answer for in terms of the spawning of false teaching and superficial ‘Christian’ thought among impressionable young people throughout the evangelical churches. How on earth could anyone leave a Bible College with the idea that they could choose to be an Apostle, if they so wished? Really, the mind boggles.
In view of the fact that the spiritual gift of ‘Languages’ depended so much on Apostolic ministry, let us see how the New Testament identifies the qualifications of an apostle. What are the distinguishing marks of an apostle? If we can identify these, then we will see if they can be applied to anyone alive today, such as that aspiring young woman.
3) The Qualifications of an Apostle
The word apostle comes from the Greek word, apostolos, which means, literally, one who is sent. Our word “posted” is derived from it. So, very loosely speaking, the word “apostle” can apply to anyone given a special commission or posting in the Church in any era of its existence. Occasionally, in the New Testament, the word is used in this broader sense to refer to those who have been specially commissioned for missionary work by the churches (e.g. Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 23; Letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verse 25). But such general, church-commissioned, sent-ones were not the same as those entrusted with the unique spiritual gift of Apostleship, who were referred to as “Apostles of Jesus Christ” (see Letter to the Galatians, chapter 1, verse 1) — sent personally by Him, and who had unique qualifications for receiving that gift and distributing spiritual gifts to others. The sole qualifications which the Bible gives for being a spiritually-gifted Apostle are as follows:
1) He must have accompanied Jesus during His earthly ministry, which was from His baptism until His Ascension (Book of Acts, chapter 1, verses 21-23).
2) He must have been a personal witness of the resurrected Lord Jesus (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 7; chapter 9, verse 1; Book of Acts, chapter 1, verse 22; chapter 4, verse 33; chapter 10, verses 39-42).
3) He must have received a personal call from Christ to Apostleship and a commission to fulfil its duties (Gospel of Luke, chapter 6, verse 13; Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verses 14-15).
4) He must have had, as his field of labour, the whole world, rather than a local church or group of churches (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19; Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 15).
On this basis, and in the power of Jesus Christ (i.e. “in His name”, Gospel of Mark, chapter 9, verses 38-41), such a one was given a commission (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 18-20) to herald out the kerygma, the essential message of the Gospel on which the Church was founded — the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul refers directly to this special apostolic commission in his Letter to Titus, chapter 1, verses 1-3. Furthermore, there were distinctive “signs of an Apostle” of Jesus Christ. When certain people in the church at Corinth suggested that Paul was not really an Apostle, he answered by referring specifically to these signs as proof of his Apostleship (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12; cf. Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 3-4).
In carrying out this personal commission from the Lord Jesus Christ, these Apostles (along with the New Testament Prophets) were in the process of laying the foundations of the Church — a historical architectural procedure which is a once-for-all exercise and which cannot be repeated throughout every era of Church history (read Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 20; Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verse 14).
This is precisely the context in which the Lord Jesus told the Apostle Peter that he and his testimony to the Messiahship of Christ were the rock upon which He would build His Church (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 18). This is a further confirmation that one of the prime characteristics of genuine Apostles was that they (and their teachings) were the foundations of the Church — the solid bedrock — and we are the building that rests upon that which they established. Once a foundation is laid, the proper building begins. That foundation consisted of the setting up of the primitive Church on a correct footing of healthy teaching and practice (“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”… “Remember me…keep the traditions” , First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11 verses 1-2; cf. Second Letter to Timothy, chapter 1, verses 13-14; Letter to Titus, chapter 1, verse 9), authenticating the Messianic coming with miraculous works (Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 3-4; Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 43; chapter 5, verse 12), and writing the Scriptures for a testimony of these things to later generations of disciples of Christ (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 3-5). The gifts are given for the “edification” of the Church as a whole. Edification means building up. The Apostles’ primary contribution to the building up of the Church was to lay the solid rock on which it would be built.
These unique Apostles — God’s foundation gift to the church (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 28) — were also directly commissioned and personally sent by Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. That is why they are called “Apostles of Christ ” and “Apostles of Jesus Christ” (see the first verse of each of these letters: First and second Letters to the Corinthians, Letter to the Ephesians., Letter to the Colossians, First and Second Letters to Timothy, Letter to Titus, First and Second Letters of Peter, and especially the first verse of the Letter to the Galatians, First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 6; Letter of Jude, verse 17). This is why false apostles are those who transform themselves into the Apostles of Christ (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 13). A further aspect of the foundation-laying of the Apostles of Christ is that they laid down the New Testament Scriptures on which the truth of the Gospel is grounded and authenticated (Gospel of John, chapter 17, verse 20; Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 3-5; cf. Gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 30-31).
There were just two exceptions to the above qualifications for the Apostleship. One was Matthias, who had not been directly commissioned by Christ but was chosen as a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Book of Acts, chapter 1, verses 21ff.). The other was Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul. Although Paul had not been with Jesus during His earthly ministry, he received an extraordinary manifestation of the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus and was given a special commission to minister to the Gentiles (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 1; chapter 15, verse 8; Book of Acts, chapter 26, verses 15-18). Thus, the hallowed Twelve Apostles became thirteen — one having been “of untimely birth” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 8). There is a remarkable touch of typology here in the way that the twelve tribes of Israel (of which the twelve Apostles were a New Testament echo, as shown in the Book of Revelation, chapter 21, verses 12-14) also became thirteen with the elevation of two of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to the rank of tribal heads (Book of Genesis, chapter 48, verse 5).
What significance does all this have for us in the twenty-first century? Can anyone alive now make the bold claim that they have the spiritual gift of Apostleship — that they are therefore an Apostle of Jesus Christ, as many claim to be today? A consideration of the above facts must surely lead one to give a negative answer, for the following reasons:
- None of us alive today has spent any time with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry.
- None of us has ever been material witnesses of His Resurrection. In fact, our evidence for the Resurrection rests solely on the foundation which was laid by the true Apostles, who were commissioned to write these things down for us in the Scriptures (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 1-9).
- None of us today has been personally commissioned by Christ to be witnesses to the fact of His Resurrection in the way in which the original Apostles were.
- None of us can possibly be called the founders of the Church.
- Neither have we ever been personally commissioned by Christ to perform those signs which were exclusively those of an Apostle of His (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, verses 1-4; Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verses 13-15; chapter 16, verses 17-18; Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 12).
For these compelling reasons, there can be no genuine Apostles of Jesus Christ today. The spiritual gift of Apostleship lasted only for the infancy of the Church, during its foundation-laying period, for the duration of the lives of the Apostles, and has no functional relevance today. Anyone claiming to be an Apostle now is a false apostle — of which there were many even in the early church (Book of Acts, chapter 15; Letter to the Galatians, chapter 1, verses 7-9; Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapters 10 & 11; Letter to the Colossians, chapter 2), whose end shall be according to their works (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 13-15; cf. Book of Revelation, chapter 2, verse 2).
It represents an attempt to move the goalposts to say, as many do today, that the Spiritual gift of Apostleship is a secondary form of apostleship, lacking the authority that we see exercised by the Apostles in Scripture. The whole notion of spiritually-gifted “secondary” apostles and prophets has only served to create fear, confusion and false authority in the churches, while giving Satan a supreme foothold in a place where he should really fear to tread.
Since it is plain that there can be no genuine Apostles of Jesus Christ today, we must conclude that there can be no one around to distribute the revelatory/sign-gifts. Not only is there no one to impart them, but they have served their purpose in the development of the Church — a fact which I will now prove in relation to the gift of ‘Tongues’.
Once the New Testament canon was completed and all the Apostles were dead, the gifts which served for a sign and for revelation were finished. There was no further need for piecemeal prophetic revelation to be given now that God’s Word was complete. There was no further need for signs to be given to Israel for authenticating or judicial reasons, as that national state had been wound up by the Lord, utterly completely in AD 70. Neither was there anyone available to impart or distribute these gifts, because the original divinely-ordained Apostolate was no longer in existence.
These sign-gifts were specifically intended to aid the establishment of the Church through the ministry of the Apostles. The pattern is clearly shown in the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 3-4. Read those verses through. First came the word of the Gospel spoken by the Lord Jesus (v.3b), which is then confirmed to “us” (disciples of Christ in general, v.3c) as a result of the special ministry of “those who heard Him” (i.e. the Apostles, v.3c). This special Apostolic ministry is spoken of as “God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit” (i.e., spiritual gifts, v.4). This use of the word “distributions” is especially significant, because it shows that the gifts of the Spirit which were the special province of Apostolic ministry — i.e., those which involved revelation (prophecy) and authentication (signs) — were distributed by the Apostles. The need for such revelation and authentication was a hallmark of the foundation-laying period of church history; but, as we shall see, there was no further need for such “signs” after the conclusion of the Apostolic era.
It should give us pause for thought to know that the Scriptures give a clear indication that as the Gospel Age progresses there will be an increasing manifestation of “revelation” and “signs” which are the special work of false christs and false prophets (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verse 24; Gospel of Mark, chapter 13, verse 22). The biblical teaching on “signs and wonders” is that the beginning of this Age was characterised by the signs of the Apostles of Christ and genuine wonders worked by those empowered by them; whereas the end of the Age will be characterised by the signs of Antichrist and “lying wonders” worked by those empowered by Satan (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 9; Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verses 13-14; cf. First Letter to Timothy, chapter 4, verse 1).
Having now established the true identity of an Apostle of Jesus Christ and ascertained the essential nature of those gifts which were given to the Church for a sign and for revelation, let us now return to consider the true purposes of the spiritual gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’).
4) The Purposes of the Gift of Languages (‘Tongues’)
There were three fundamental purposes of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’):
1) The Gift of ‘Languages’ Demonstrated the Universal Nature of the Gospel
Having been mainly (though not exclusively, see e.g. Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 31, concerning the Canaanite prostitute Rahab’s faith) confined to those of the nation Israel in former times, the Gospel of God, as manifested in the finished work of Christ, would now be sent throughout the whole world. The manifestation of that variety of languages at Pentecost, so that “each one heard them speaking his own language” (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 6), was designed to show the universal nature of the Gospel drawing people of EVERY tribe, nation and “tongue” (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 10, verses 15-16; Book of Revelation, chapter 5; chapter 7, verses 9-10; chapter 14, verses 6-7). Plus we can see there that they were real languages which were able to be miraculously spoken and not pagan gibberish.
2) The Gift of ‘Languages’ Demonstrated a Reversal of the Judgement on Babel
All those people hearing the wonderful works of God proclaimed in his or her own language at Pentecost heralded a reversal of the judgement at Babel, when there was a confounding of human language from being just one common language to being many languages. It was a sounding forth of that great truth that there is neither “Jew nor Greek…in Christ Jesus”. It is only in Christ Jesus that people can become one.
There was a third, even deeper, purpose to the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) being given to the early Church:
3) The Gift of ‘Languages’ Showed that Judgement was Falling on Israel
A primary hallmark of the biblical gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) is that it was practised either spontaneously by the Apostles of Christ, or by those who had received the gift through the laying on of hands by these self-same Apostles (e.g., Book of Acts, chapter 19, verse 6). As with the other revelatory/sign-gifts, it is impossible for anyone to exhibit the genuine version of this gift unless they have had Apostolic hands laid on them.
The only exception to this was the “mini-Pentecost” at Caesarea, when Cornelius and his household were empowered by God to demonstrate definitely to the Jewish believers present that the Gentiles had been grafted into the Church as the people of God (Acts 10). Here, the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) was being used in its biblical manifestation; for when the Gentiles were admitted into the People of God, this would truly be a “sign” to unbelieving Jews that the judgement of the Lord was falling on Israel. And this brings us to the fundamental purpose behind the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’).
There is an undergirding purpose for the biblical gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) which seems to have escaped the attention of many disciples of Christ today: Namely, its original function as a “sign”. There were two kinds of “signs” in Early Church phenomena: authenticating signs and judicial signs. Miracles, healings, the casting out of demons, and prophecy all fall into the former category. Their purpose was to be a witness to the presence of the promised Messiah. This can be proven from the fact that, when John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask the question: “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” , the Scripture explicitly states:
“At that very hour He cured many people of their infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many who were blind He gave sight. Then Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: That the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them’”.Gospel of Luke, chapter 7, verses 20-22
All this was a clear reference back to the prophecy given in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 35, verses 5-6, so that they would authenticate the “signs” being performed. However, the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) is unique among the gifts in that it was given primarily as a judicial sign rather than an authenticating one. Let me expand this concept, which is vital to our understanding of the use of this gift, and whether or not its alleged manifestations today are compatible with the sacred texts.
From the beginning of the Lord’s relationship with the children of Israel, His primary way of judgement was to bring a foreign language-speaking nation down upon them. This was the ultimate penalty for breaking the Covenant with Him. This was clearly spelled out to them, along with other curses, in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, verses 33 & 36. Here, God told them that if they break the Covenant: “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the ends of the earth, to swoop down upon you like an eagle, a nation whose language you will not understand ” (Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, verse 49). [emphasis added]. The essential element of this Covenant curse is that it comes through a Gentile nation speaking in a language which is not understood by the People of God. This is one of the curses which would ensue if they broke the covenant, and is specifically referred to as a “sign” of God’s judgement in the passage concerned (see Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 28, verse 46). Further on in time, this judgemental “sign” did indeed fall upon the rebellious nation of Israel under their idolatrous (but later repentant) king, Manasseh (Second Book of Chronicles, chapter 33, verses 10-13). The prophet Isaiah predicted this with the words: “For with mocking speech and foreign languages He will speak to this people… yet they would not hear” (Book of Isaiah, chapter 28, verses 11-12). That was the “sign” of God’s judgement: An invading Gentile nation (in this case, the Assyrians) speaking in a foreign language. The same incident is referred to by Isaiah elsewhere, when he describes these Assyrians as “a people whose speech is unintelligible, who stammer in a language that you cannot understand” (Isa.33:19). The prophet Jeremiah also shows that same “sign” of the covenantal curse on rebellious Israel as being fulfilled in the fact that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and carry away its people:
“‘Behold, I am bringing a distant nation against you, O house of Israel,’ declares the LORD. ‘It is an established nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know and whose speech you do not understand’ ”. [emphasis added]Book of Jeremiah, chapter 5, verse 15
And when we come to Paul speaking about the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) to the Church in his first Letter to the Corinthians, he quotes a couple of the verses from Isaiah that I have given above (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 21; cf. Isaiah, chapter 28, verses 11-12) and then concludes: “Therefore [the gift of varieties of] languages are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 22). Here he shows the Corinthians (and us) the undergirding purpose of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’). It was given to the Church by God in order to function primarily as a judicial “sign” to unbelievers – but not just any unbelievers: for the context plainly shows that Paul meant unbelieving Jews.
A number of elements can be shown from this sequence of passages. First, it shows that the gift of what people call ‘Tongues’ consisted of real human languages — the languages of the Gentile nations — rather than the gobbledygook that is spoken by professing ‘Christians’ today. Second, it shows that the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) discussed in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapters 12-14, was given primarily to act as a “sign” to unbelieving Jews that, because of their rejection of the Messiah who had been sent to them by God, they would shortly be coming under the Covenant curse, through which a Gentile nation who spoke a foreign language (the Romans) would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple — an event which actually came to pass in AD 70, sixteen years after writing that letter. Therefore, no matter how the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages manifested itself — whether as revelation, teaching, or just simply praising and glorifying God — its underlying purpose was to function as the final manifestation of the original Covenant curse on the people of Israel.
That being the case, there can no longer be any purpose in the practice of the gift of ‘Languages’ since the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Any alleged manifestations of the gift since that time are entirely spurious and are manifestations of mysticism and paganism. This does not “limit God in His works”, as some would claim I am doing. Of course, God can do whatever He wants to do whenever He chooses to do it. But that is hardly the point in the case of this gift. When God has clearly stated the purpose of something, if that purpose no longer exists, then we must count it as finished.
There are actually a great many similarities between the function of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) and that of the parables of Jesus (read carefully the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 9-17; Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, verses 9-13, 33-34). It is in this respect that we can speak of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) as being a judicial rather than an authenticating sign. “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear”. Just as it was with the Parables of Jesus, the specific purpose of the Holy Spirit gifting Christians to speaking in unlearned languages was to “signal” God’s alienation from Israel.
Every occurrence of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) recorded in the Book of Acts was clearly working in this way as a pointed “signal” to the Jews that, as a nation, they would be coming under the judgement of God. In fact, the Book of Acts, chapter, 2, verses 4-11, corroborates this, where they are shown to function as a sign, which could then be followed by successful evangelism in a language they could understand! The other examples also show the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) functioning as a “sign” to Israel (Book of Acts, chapter 8, verses 14-17; chapter 10, verses 44-47; chapter 19, verses 1-6). The very fact that there was the sound of ‘a massive rushing wind’ and the appearance of ‘tongues of fire’ would only serve to emphasise the divinely judicial nature of the event in the Book of Acts, chapter 2, for a tongue or tongues of fire and a mighty rushing wind were clear symbols of God’s judgement in the Old Testament. Here are but a few examples
“Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes the straw, and as dry grass shrivels in the flame, so their roots will decay and their blossoms will blow away like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the LORD of Hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel”.Book of Isaiah, chapter 5, verse 24
“Behold, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense smoke. His lips are full of fury, and His tongue is like a consuming fire”.Book of Isaiah, chapter 30, verse 27
“The LORD will devote to destruction the gulf of the Sea of Egypt; with a mighty wind He will sweep His hand over the Euphrates. He will split it into seven streams for men to cross with dry sandals”.Book of Isaiah, chapter 11, verse 15
“I warned you when you were secure. You said, ‘I will not listen.’ This has been your way from youth, that you have not obeyed My voice. The wind will drive away all your shepherds, and your lovers will go into captivity. Then you will be ashamed and humiliated because of all your wickedness”.Book of Jeremiah, chapter 22, verse 22
“Ephraim [the Northern kingdom of Israel] is joined to idols; leave him alone! When their liquor is gone, they turn to prostitution; their rulers dearly love disgrace. The whirlwind has wrapped them in its wings, and their sacrifices will bring them shame”.Book of Hosea, chapter 4, verses 17-19
“Although he flourishes among his brothers, an east wind will come—a wind from the LORD rising up from the desert. His fountain will fail, and his spring will run dry. The wind will plunder his treasury of every precious article”.Book of Hosea, chapter 13, verse 15
At that Pentecost in Jerusalem, Divine judgement was shown in symbols to be coming upon Israel once and for all. The meaning of the ‘tongues of fire’ and ‘mighty rushing wind’ in the Book of Acts, chapter 2 would not be lost on the Jews who were present.
4) The Abuses of the Gift of ‘Languages’ in the Corinthian Church
A common assertion in Christian literature about the spiritual gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) is that it is given to be used for personal communication with God and is for the benefit of the individual rather than the whole church. [See, for example, “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, Zondervan, 1975-6, Vol.V, p.508]. This has led many professing ‘Christians’ into the false notion that this gift is for devotional prayer or for the purposes of engaging in spiritual warfare. But these notions are based on a misinterpretation of Paul’s words in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verses 1-5. In these few verses, Paul is not delivering a lecture on ‘how-to-speak-in-tongues’. In common with the rest of this letter, he is addressing severe pastoral problems which needed the input of Apostolic authority.
In chapters 12-14, Paul is actually chiding the Corinthians for the way that they were misusing spiritual gifts — especially the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’), which they performed in their own strength when the Holy Spirit had not given the necessary gift of interpretation to the hearers. The pivotal verse concerning ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) is when the Apostle makes the statement, “he who speaks in another language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 4). That is not a statement about the true nature of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’); it is Paul’s criticism of the Corinthians for the way that they abused the gift. Paul cannot be saying that the normative use of ‘Languages’ is for personal edification, for that would be to contradict his statements in this letter regarding the general purpose of all the gifts — which is for the enhancement of the whole Church rather than just oneself (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 7, 24-25; chapter 14, verses 4-5, 12) — and the specific purpose of the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’, see the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 22).
It seems highly likely that Paul is using the words “builds himself up” in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 4 in a derogatory sense. For there is not a single instance elsewhere of Paul using the term to refer to somebody building themselves up. The whole concept of “edification” in Scripture refers to something one does for others . When he says: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 1), he does not mean that love edifies the one doing the loving! It edifies others. Thus, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, it is as if Paul was saying:
“When you speak in languages as you do, without anyone knowing what you are saying, you are simply making yourself feel good — it is just for yourself; whereas prophecy can never be used in this way because others benefit from it”.
All the gifts are for service and ministry to others, therefore there can be no purpose whatsoever in speaking gobbledegook or mindless babble, other than for the enhancement of oneself. You would just be building yourself up, puffing up yourself. Furthermore, the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 1, completely confounds the idea of what people call “devotional tongues”. First, if I speak in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) outside of the context of love (Greek, agape , caring for others), I am merely making a worthless noise. Second, if ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) are to be exercised in the context of such love for others, then they cannot be for personal use. This is why Paul says that there must be a purpose to ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’)-speaking which brings it into the realm of service to others (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verses 5-6). It is more than likely that the Corinthians were speaking ‘tongues’ in the same manner as that of the heathen religions — ecstatic babbling without any of the necessary interpretation — for that certainly appears to fit the information we can glean from Paul’s criticisms (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verses 2, 4, 12-19). Such bogus “tongues-speaking” was the norm among the mystery-cults which thrived in the Mediterranean countries at that time, and it accounts for all the babbling tongues-speaking of today, which may give people a nice “buzz” and generate a sense of piety or spiritual pride, but it is not the biblical gift of “Languages”.
This entire section of the First Letter to the Corinthians is actually a very complex passage, and we cannot fully understand all that Paul is saying here. This is why we must be so careful in our analysis of what he is asserting. For instance, a number of misunderstandings have arisen because many disciples of Christ overlook the fact that every time the word ”spirit” is used in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verses 2, 14-16, it is not referring to the Holy Spirit but to the person’s own spirit (as used in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, verse 24). It is not my purpose to give a detailed exegesis of this passage, but once it is realised that Paul is not writing a “How-To” manual on ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’)-speaking, but is very graciously criticising the Corinthians for their misuse of this gift for personal selfish means, then things will begin to fall into place.
The sole purpose of brothers and sisters in Christ receiving the spiritual gifts is for the building up of the Ekklesia in history at the time of its foundation. ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) were never given as a “private prayer language” — a standard phrase in most Christians’ thinking today. Since we can easily deduce from Scripture that not all disciples of Christ would have the gift of ‘Languages’ (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 10, 28-31), then if this gift was to provide a special devotional “hotline” to God solely for a limited, privileged elite, it would go entirely against the many places in Scripture where we are told that all disciples of Christ have a full personal channel of direct communication to God which is always open (e.g., Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 14-16; Letter of James, chapter 5, verse 16b). True prayer is discursive and is based on intelligent and intelligible two-way communication between God and His people. The idea of “tuning-in” to the Divine Being through ecstatic babbling which is not understood by the one doing the babbling belongs instead to the realms of mysticism and occult meditation.
Yet another misunderstanding about the gift of Languages is that it was given as an aid to Christians in their mission work to foreign-language speaking cultures. But there is no biblical justification for this either. At Pentecost, in the best biblical example of the gift in action, the actual evangelising was done in the native Aramaic (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 14-39), whereas the ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’)-speaking solely functioned as a preliminary “sign” to the unbelieving Jews, exactly as described in First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 22. These inconvenient facts are so important to grasp; but very few want to listen and would far rather continue with their cultish comportment in case they ‘miss out’ on everything they imagine that God is sending them. Once the forces of darkness have got a hold on people, they do not let their prey go easily. The prey has to want to be free. And if there is no volition to be set free, such folk will just bask in the insanity of it all, imagining they are the ones who have the Holy Spirit, while claiming to be on the higher moral and spiritual ground. I have seen all this so many times. The sad yet comforting reality is that only those who are genuine disciples of Christ will break free and move on.
Concluding Thoughts to Part 3
Having established that the ‘Tongues’ which people are speaking today cannot be squared with the biblical gift of ‘Languages’, the discussion should surely be lifted entirely out of the area of “the gifts of the Spirit” and taken into the realm of the Bible’s own testimony concerning how God loves us to pray. It should give all would-be tongues-speakers today pause for thought to know that Jesus specifically forbade using unintelligible speech in one’s prayers to God . He told His disciples: “when you pray, do not babble on like the pagans,” (Mt.6:7). The Greek verb translated here as “babble on” (battalogeo ) means literally to “babble” or to “speak without thinking”, and this is the only occasion that it is used in the New Testament. [W. Bauer, W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich, “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament”, University of Chicago, 1979, p.137]. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines battalogeo as “to blubber nonsensically”. So it is doubly significant that Jesus, after telling people not to blubber on nonsensically, immediately went on to recommend the ultimate in intelligible speech, the Lord’s Prayer, in opposition to the meaningless babble of heathen devotions. That is a lesson right there for all those who practice this ludicrous blather known as “Tongues”.
Sadly, the gift that so many people claim is ‘Tongues’ today is precisely the same phenomenon which one can find in many other religious and non-religious groups in the world. It is really a work of the occult mind-sciences — having far more in common with hypnosis and mysticism than with the spirituality desired from disciples of Christ. Yet, in many circles, such phoney ‘tongues’-speaking is counted as a sure sign of having received the Holy Spirit. Does that border on blasphemy (cf. Gospel of Matthew, chapter 12, verse 31). What a hideous travesty of truth it all is! There are even church workshops which one can attend concerning how to speak in this blasphemous babbling ‘tongues’, in which one is told to open one’s mouth and make a noise to see what gibberish comes out!
Surely, the widespread nature of such falsehood is only creating a fertile bed for further deception and confusion; for falling for one deception always paves the way to be deceived by others. It is precisely such deception and confusion which is said in Scripture to characterise the build-up to the time of the end. This is searingly ironic when one considers that the very giving of the ability to speak in many languages at the inauguration of the New Testament church at Pentecost was a sign of the reversal of the confusion of languages at Babel and the resultant sowing of certainty and hope through the Gospel. May we be the sowers of that certainty and hope in these darkening days of deception and confusion.
So far, in Parts 1, 2 and 3, we have covered the background to these pagan practices in the visible church, what lies behind the cultic ‘Crisis Experience’ induced in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, and an in-depth examination of the widespread Christian practice of ‘Tongues’-Speaking, in which we have come to the only conclusions possible: That the biblical gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) consisted of real ethnic languages which needed interpretation and that it was primarily meant as a judicial sign to the Jews that the covenant curse was falling upon them for their refusal to accept their Messiah. Now, in Part 4, we turn to examine the Pentecostal/Charismatic experience known as the ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ — an induced incident which supposedly gives evidence that one has received the ‘full gospel’ through speaking in gibberish ‘Tongues’ and which often issues in falling down or other incongruous effects.
Spirit-Baptism and Unholy Fire
If we are serious about discovering the true meaning of ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’, what do we find? We discover the remarkable fact that it is in reality an experience that is applied to all disciples of Christ at the time of their regeneration, without exception. This is the clear and unequivocal teaching of Scripture on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Even before the Lord Jesus began His earthly ministry, John the Baptist was preaching in advance:
“After me will come One more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” [emphasis added]Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verses 7-8; cf. Gospel of Matthew, chapter 3, verse 11; Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, verse 16; Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 33
Was the Baptist saying here that Jesus would merely baptise a few with the Holy Spirit? Not at all. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit was to be for all those who come to Him in repentance and faith. Even in the Old Testament prophecies of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church, this Baptism with the Holy Spirit is shown to be for all those who come to Christ. As the Lord prophesied through His servant prophet, Isaiah:
‘Now listen, O Jacob My servant, Israel, whom I have chosen… I will pour water on the thirsty land, and currents on the dry ground. I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring”. [emphasis added]Book of Isaiah, chapter 44, verses 1, 3 ,4
Who are the thirsty ‘descendants’ and ‘offspring’ of Israel that Isaiah was speaking of in these verses? Are they an elite group who happen to have attended highly-charged, emotional meetings and followed to the letter the checklist instructions and powerful suggestions of their religious leaders? Of course not! The descendants and offspring of ancient Israel referred to in this passage are the spiritual seed of Abraham, the Church, the body of Christ, the children of God by adoption on whom the Spirit has been poured out in these last days (see Letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 14; chapter 4, verses 5-7; Letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verses 9, 14-17). The water in these verses of Isaiah is symbolic of Holy Spirit baptism which is said to be for all those who are thirsty, i.e. all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and are then filled with the Holy Spirit (see Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 6; Gospel of John, chapter 7, verses 37-39).
There are numerous other Scriptures which make it abundantly clear that all disciples of Christ receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit from the moment of their new birth in Christ Jesus. Paul the apostle tells all the disciples at Ephesus that, “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 13). To the foolish Galatians who had become fascinated with false teachings, he poses the question, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Letter to the Galatians, chapter 3, verse 2), followed by an assertion “that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (v.14). And Jesus Himself said that the Holy Spirit would come and take up residence within the person who has salvation through Jesus Christ (Gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 16-17).
This receiving of the Holy Spirit at the instant of the new birth is the true Baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, Pentecostal/Charismatic teachers claim that there is a difference between ‘receiving’ the Holy Spirit at the new birth and subsequently being ‘baptised’ with the Holy Spirit. But to teach such a difference is contrary to the evidence of the Scriptures which, instead, show that the two are exactly synonymous. Let us demonstrate this with a real example.
When Peter saw that the Gentile Cornelius and his household had been saved by the power of God, he said: “Can anyone withhold the water to baptize these people? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have!” (Book of Acts, chapter 10, verse 47). Then, a few verses later, when accurately recounting this exact episode to the brethren in Jerusalem, Peter said that he
“Then I remembered the word of the Lord, as He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder the work of God?”Book of Acts, chapter 11, verses 16-17
It is clear from a close comparison of these two verses that Peter precisely equated ‘receiving’ the Holy Spirit (Book of Acts, chapter 10, verse 47) with the ‘baptism’ with the Holy Spirit (Book of Acts, chapter 11, verses 16). This proves without a doubt that in the apostolic way of thinking, there never was a post-conversion ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ — especially one which had to be manipulated with loads of suggestion and hypnotic technics à la Anton Mesmer. Moreover, the Scripture expressly says that Cornelius “repented” in response to Peter’s evangelism (Book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 18b) — a clear reference to his spiritual transformation. Spirit-baptism is therefore contemporaneous with repentance and regeneration, rather than being an optional module of progressive sanctification after conversion.
At this stage, a cry is usually raised by Pentecostals and Charismatics that we are ignoring the other cases in the Book of Acts, chapters 2, 8, 10 and 19 which appear to prove conclusively that there is a post-conversion experience of the Holy Spirit which is separate from the receiving of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and which is normative for all disciples of Christ. However, if we apply sound rules for biblical interpretation and exercise discernment before immediately rushing into imitating an example given to us in the Book of Acts, we will learn that the support offered by these passages is merely superficial. A deeper examination of their immediate contextual meaning and relevance, coupled with an application of what we are taught elsewhere in Scripture about Holy Spirit Baptism, gives an entirely different understanding, not only of these passages but also of the wonderful ministry of the Holy Spirit in the inauguration of the Ekklesia at its foundation.
It is the complete failure and wilful refusal to enter into a more profound understanding of these passages which has led to the rise of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements in recent decades. Indeed, this combined movement, which has led to so much heartache and division in the Church this century (at a time when unity between genuine disciples of Christ against secular humanism and Neo-Gnosticism is absolutely vital), would never have come into being had there been a willingness to get beyond a merely superficial understanding of the history of the Early Church recorded in the Book of Acts.
So, what are we to make of the four passages in Acts which appear to show that one can be ‘baptised’ with the Holy Spirit as a post-conversion experience? No single event recorded in the Book of Acts can be taken as an isolated event. For this book is tracing the carefully purposed work of the Holy Spirit in the establishment of the Ekklesia. Right at the outset, the agenda is set when the Lord Jesus Christ tells His Apostles:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.Book of Acts, chapter 1, verse 8
In this verse the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church recorded in the Book of Acts is compressed into a brief précis: From Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria, and from there to the ends of the earth. Do you see the significance of these words? This is what the Book of Acts encompasses: The Spirit-inspired spread of the Gospel begins in the place that was the heartland of the Old Covenant nation, Israel, and then spreads out through Judea and the land of the Samaritans (despised by the Jews) and thence to the Gentile nations of the world, to places such as Ephesus, Corinth, Macedonia, etc. (also despised by the Jews) — an event which finds its ultimate fulfilment in Paul’s arrival in Rome (the very apex of Gentile culture at that time) at the close of the Book of Acts. In other words, in this book we see the authoritative cataloguing of the historically unique and necessary development from Judaism to the Ekklesia, which encompasses both believing Jews and Gentiles.
Take note of this extraordinary fact: Of the four extraordinary occurrences of the Holy Spirit which are cited by Pentecostals and Charismatics as being normative for the Christian, three of these (Book of Acts, chapters 2, 8 and 10) occur in places corresponding exactly with these target zones of the Holy Spirit’s rapidly spreading Gospel ministry. In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, we have the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the Church in Jerusalem. In the Book of Acts, chapter 8, because of the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem, the work of the Spirit moves to Judea and Samaria. In the Book of Acts, chapter 10, the Gentile centurion, Cornelius of Caesarea (the ‘capital’ of Judea, according to the Roman historian Tacitus), becomes the focus of the Spirit’s attentions. The fourth extraordinary occurrence of the Holy Spirit carried an important message for all remaining disciples of the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist (Book of Acts, chapter 19). We shall now examine briefly each of these four events in turn, so that we can appreciate their significance to the movement of the Spirit in and well beyond the confines of Jerusalem and understand the context of speaking in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’).
1) First Relevant Event: Book of Acts, chapter 2:1-21, ‘Beginning at Jerusalem’
This passage is claimed as proof of a post-conversion religious experience because, it is argued, the disciples were already converted when they were “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other languages” (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 4). However, the once-for-all-time nature of this event must surely exclude it from being normative for all Christians throughout every era of the Church. The idea that we can reproduce today what was a unique event in Church History is facile, to say the least. Just as Luke had recorded the unique coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Lord Jesus as the beginning of His ministry (His baptism by John in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, verses 21-22 is followed by the words, “Now Jesus Himself began [His ministry at] about thirty years of age”), so the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost was the beginning of the Gospel ministry of the Church. “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Book of Acts, chapter 1, verse 5).
One must also bear in mind here that, although there have been the people of God saved by the power of Christ in all ages (for the Cross is retrospective in its effects as well as prospective), the Holy Spirit had not yet been given in fullness as a permanently-indwelling reality in the life of the Lord’s people as individuals (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 7, verses 37-39). So when the Spirit was given to the Church at Pentecost, the disciples were brought into a new relationship with the Lord and were given a new commission. It was the powerful fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.
Furthermore, the ‘Tongues’ which were spoken here, when the gift was given, were real human languages rather than the ecstatic babble spoken by professing ‘Christians’ today (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verses 5-11), and they were also functioning as a judicial ‘sign’ to unbelieving Jews, exactly as Paul had shown was the true purpose of the gift (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 22), as we shall later see. The sign-nature of this happening can be seen in the response of those present. Some were “amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’, whereas ‘others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine’” (Acts 2:12-13). To some, the fragrance of Christ is the aroma of death to death, to others the aroma of life to life (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2, verses 15-16). Those who have ears to hear let them hear. To those who have, more will be given; to those who have not, even what they have will be taken away from them. After the giving of the ‘sign’ in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’), the way was then paved for Peter’s evangelistic sermon in the native Aramaic which resulted in about three thousand souls being added to the number of the redeemed (Book of Acts, chapter 2, verse 41).
All this is a far cry from the ecstatic babbling which is spoken by people in the churches today, which does not function as a sign to anyone, and is not in a known language which can be interpreted, and which is used mainly as a supposed devotional aid to personal prayer or for the effecting of trance-inducement. Similarly, the ‘Tarrying Meetings’ held in Pentecostal churches while people wait to receive a ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ are a vain attempt to bring on what people imagine to have happened at Pentecost. Anyone who thinks that they can replicate that original Pentecostal phenomenon has misunderstood entirely the unique work of the Holy Spirit in the initiation and foundation of the Church.
2) Second Relevant Event: Book of Acts, chapter 8:14-17, ‘In All Samaria’
This event in Samaria is also extraordinary, and was a unique event in God’s redemptive timetable. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and the feeling was mutual — a state of affairs which went back a thousand years to the time when ten of the tribes of Israel had set up their own state, with Samaria as the capital, and practised a syncretised mixture of true religion and heathen idolatry (First Book of Kings, chapter 16, verses 21-24; Second Book of Kings, chapter 17, verses 24-41). At one time the Apostles had been forbidden by Jesus to enter any Samaritan city (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, verse 5), while James and John had once wished to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan community (Gospel of Luke, chapter 9, verse 54).
The movement of the preaching of the Gospel away from Jerusalem really began when the persecution of the Church by Saul of Tarsus (later Paul the Apostle) providentially scattered converts around the world (Book of Acts, chapter 8, verses 1-4). Phillip the evangelist was very bold in going to Samaria to preach the Gospel, because of the history of hostility. The fact that he was successful should not surprise us too much, as the Samaritans were waiting for the Messiah as much as the Jews (cf. Gospel of John, chapter 4, verse 29). But the problem at this point in Church history, was the special need to convince the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem that the Samaritans really were being admitted into the Ekklesia. It is no wonder that when the authoritative Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria (of all places!) had actually received the word of God, they sent the Apostles Peter and John down to them (Book of Acts, chapter 8, verse 14). It was most vital that Apostolic authority should be brought to determine whether or not the reception of the Gospel in these formerly-hated Gentile domains was genuine — not to mention the need for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem to be convinced that these were indeed movements of God. Do you see now how these events are not normative for all time but were spiritually and historically unique during the delicate founding and building of the Ekklesia?
It is no coincidence that it was Phillip the Hellenist who had gone to Samaria to evangelise. This was a shrewd move. The Jewish converts from Jerusalem might have resisted carrying out such an action themselves, and the Samaritans would have been far less likely to accept the Gospel if some Apostles of Jewish origin turned up at the outset. So once the job had been successfully done by Phillip, who would be accepted, the way was paved for the Apostles to come to Samaria and authenticate the events of recent days.
The only explanation which can account for what was happening here in Samaria was that it was a ‘Mini-Pentecost’, in which the giving of the Spirit was delayed until Apostolic authority had ratified that the Gospel had genuinely been received there. Added to this was the necessity for the Samaritans to feel that they had truly been accepted back into the household of God. All this was an act of grace on God’s part. For if things had not been done this way, it is possible that the Samaritan reception of the Gospel would never have been accepted in Jerusalem and a split would have befallen the Church at a delicate point in redemptive history.
There is no reason to believe that the coming of the Spirit on the Samaritans was anything other than an isolated event which is not to be imitated in every era of the Church. It was part of God’s providence in the initial extension of the Great Commission in the Apostolic era, and, as such, was a one-off occasion applicable only to that situation.
3) Third Relevant Event: Book of Acts, chapter 10:1 to chapter 11:18, ‘In All Judea’
The events surrounding the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11 are commonly used as a proof text for the post-conversion Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The stress is on the word ‘post-conversion’ here, because some brethren claim that Cornelius was already converted before he was baptised with the Holy Spirit. However, this could not be the case, for the Scripture observes that the Jewish Christians who were present when Cornelius spoke in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) said: “Then God has also granted even to the Gentiles repentance unto life” (Book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 18), a clear reference to the fact that what was involved in the scene between Peter and Cornelius was that the latter and his household repented there and then in response to Peter’s openly evangelistic sermon in the Book of Acts, chapter 10, verses 34-43.
A major thread in this event was the necessity to convince the Jewish believers from Jerusalem that the Holy Spirit had been poured out on believing Gentiles as well; and that was the purpose behind this entire episode with Cornelius (see Book of Acts, chapter 11, verses 1-18). After thousands of years of God carrying out His redemptive dealings almost exclusively with the single nation, Israel, one can have some sympathy with this. It was necessary that Cornelius and his household should undergo this ‘mini-Pentecost’ — this replication of the original Pentecost in Jerusalem — in order to authenticate the inclusion of the Gentiles in the new body of the Lord’s people. The Lord does not automatically ‘zap’ information into our brains: He uses means, agents, channels and intermediaries to persuade us of things about which we need convincing (e.g., Gospel of John, chapter 2, verse 11). Added to this is the fact that the gift of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) given to Cornelius and his household was functioning as a true ‘sign’. Any unbelieving Jews who heard about this history-making event would be astounded to learn that God had granted repentance to the Gentiles!
There is a further lesson to be gained from the record of this event. Contrary to those who imagine that there were continuous tongue-speaking sessions and post-conversion Holy Spirit baptisms in every corner of the church, Peter tells us that when Cornelius was baptised with the Holy Spirit, it was a carbon copy of the original outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Book of Acts, chapter 11, verse 15) — thereby also proving that it was genuine languages which were spoken here rather than any imagined ecstatic babbling. How significant it is that the only event used by Peter for comparison with what took place in the household of Cornelius was a unique occasion which had taken place some eight years earlier! Such an event was clearly something really special — a complete rarity — not one that can be worked up at any time by bringing an emotionally-manipulative evangelist into town who can give out some crude checklist instructions on how to plug into a pseudo-spiritual experience. In common with the other Spirit baptisms in the Book of Acts, this conversion of the Gentile Cornelius is a uniquely important milestone in the Holy Spirit’s gradually-spreading, post-Pentecost ministry, and is not to be used as a normative example for all Christians in every era.
4) Fourth Relevant Event: Book of Acts, chapter 19:1-7, ‘Beyond the Baptism of John’
This event in the Book of Acts, chapter 19 is cited by many Charismatics and Pentecostals as being supportive of a post-conversion Baptism with the Holy Spirit; but this is based on an incorrect translation of the original Greek by the authors of the King James Version, which reads, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (verse 2). But a correct translation does not warrant the use of the word “since”. Instead, the literal translation of the Greek reads: “Having believed, did you receive the Holy Spirit?”, or “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And this is the translation given by all other versions of the Bible today. As readers will notice, this genuine translation actually works against the Pentecostal belief in a post-conversion second-blessing baptism with the Holy Spirit, and shows that the normative reception of the Holy Spirit is contemporaneous with believing. (If you remember earlier in this paper I provided a YouTube video of a pastor using exactly this erroneous King James Version translation in order to seduce his hapless audience (which probably consisted of a number who’d had a previous experience in the church outside which they were standing) into believing that they now needed to undergo another follow-up experience to get them ‘baptised in the Holy Spirit’ so as to speak in the phony kind of ‘tongues’).
A further consideration hinges on whether or not the disciples of John the Baptist in this passage of Scripture were already regenerated at the time that Paul came to them. Surely they were not. It was only when Paul showed them the One to whom John’s baptism pointed that they really believed (verses 4-5). Even Anglican Charismatic minister and theologian, Michael Green, admits that it is “crystal clear that these disciples were in no sense Christians”. [Michael Green, “I Believe in the Holy Spirit” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1985), p.135]. So this example cannot be used to support the notion of a post-conversion Baptism with the Holy Spirit for they were not yet converted! It was another ‘Mini-Pentecost’ designed to bring the blessings of the original Pentecost to yet another special group which had not yet come into the fullness of Christian blessing. It traced the movement of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
Concluding Thoughts to Part 4
Surely, in the light of the above discussion in this section, it is clear that none of these four passages supports a post-conversion “Baptism with the Holy Spirit” — a mystical experience which is falsely claimed to be normative for all Christians in every era of the Church. The laying-on of Apostolic hands, conferring the spiritual gifts of ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’) and prophecy, was unique to these few events to show categorically that certain groupings were now incorporated into the body of Christ through the Spirit. Firstly, the Holy Spirit does not need to be poured out on the Church a second time — once, at Pentecost was quite enough. Secondly, there are no Samaritans left in the world today. Thirdly, we do not now need convincing that the Gentiles have been grafted into the people of God. Fourthly, there are no disciples of John the Baptist alive today. The above four passages portray extraordinary circumstances which are intimately tied in with the giving of the Spirit to the Church at Pentecost. The original Pentecost comes in the Book of Acts, chapter 2, while the other three instances were ‘mini-Pentecosts’, in which the Spirit was poured out on Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth — the line of progress of the Gospel from its onset in Jerusalem. The laying on of hands by genuine Apostles which led to the receiving of the Holy Spirit, as manifested in ‘Languages’ (‘Tongues’)-speaking and prophesying, were distinctive to the situations in Samaria and Ephesus, to give a visible demonstration to all sceptics (especially the brethren in Jerusalem) that the Holy Spirit was given to those outside the nation of Israel, as well as fulfilling the function of being a sign to unbelieving Jews. There were many thousands of people added to the Church in the Book of Acts, yet there is no mention of them manifesting extraordinary phenomena.
Lest anyone should still be in doubt as to whether or not all disciples of Christ are baptised with the Holy Spirit, rather than this being confined to those who have a dramatic post-conversion experience, consider the sheer force of truth in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 13 which states incontrovertibly: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free, and we were all given one Spirit to drink”.
This verse turns on its head what is being advocated in highly-charged Pentecostal and Charismatic meetings around the world, where gullible people are told to expect a religious experience called ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’. The division which this bogus experience brings into the churches is in stark opposition to the statement in that verse above, which asserts the fact that Baptism with the Holy Spirit is an immediate, conversion-effecting event which brings unity among the brethren rather than division. I have often wondered if it is possible that the global development of the Charismatic phenomenon in the past few decades has been brought into being primarily through the work of the Vatican as part of its bid to unite all professing Christians under the Pope. And what better vehicle for this than a purported ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ manifested in the ecstatic ‘tongues-speaking’ of the Mystery Religions — an experience which can be induced in anyone gullible enough to receive it, Catholic or Protestant, liberal or orthodox, believer or unbeliever. Thus, an international, ecumenical body is built up which rests on mysticism rather than on the Gospel — subjective experience rather than objective truth. In a major speech in Notre Dame Cathedral in 1972, Father Kevin Ranaghan made the revealing claim that ‘The charismatic renewal is not an end in itself, nor can it have an existence separate from that of the Church. Rather, the Charismatic renewal is part of the Church’. [“New Covenant”, edition: July 1972.] Bear in mind that when a Roman Catholic priest uses the term ‘The Church’, he is not referring to the universal Body of Christ but to all those who are under the power of the Vatican and its Pontiff. The hypnotic, compelling power of this ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ which so many are seeking has an inescapable future eschatological dimension which will one day be revealed for all to see. We need great discernment if we are not to be sucked into its powerful wake.
It is certainly true that disciples of Christ can have an overwhelming spiritual experience in the course of their lives which is a part of genuine Christian experience. However, this should not be confused with the manufactured ‘Spirit Baptism’ so common in Charismatic-Pentecostal circles. It would be foolish to deny that there are real and profound inward spiritual experiences which can happen to any Christian believer. However, these are isolated occurrences — what we can call spiritual peak-experiences — which can happen occasionally (or never at all) at any stage in one’s Christian development. And they are marked by certain infallible hallmarks: They do not happen to order, they can never be predicted, they are not to be used as a form of elitist spiritual pride, and they tend to happen out of the public eye — often in the deep privacy of personal communion with the Lord or while meditating on the wonders of His work in creation and redemption.
When disciples of Christ do have a brief but overwhelming experience of the ineffability, beauty, majesty and glory of God and all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ, these are precious, faith-enhancing experiences which one should only share with others under extraordinary circumstances. They are certainly not to be sought after; neither are they to be paraded or prostituted before the world — least of all should they be institutionalised into the distinguishing mark of a tendentious ‘movement’ — a spiritual elite who regard as inferior those who have not yet shared such bounties. The true work of the Spirit is actually very inobtrusive (Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 11, verse 5), is usually invisible to the eye (Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 8), and always glorifies Christ rather than Himself (Gospel of John, chapter 16, verses 14-15). Paul the apostle had the ultimate Christian interior experience (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 1-6), yet it was not lawful for him even to speak about it — let alone boast about it or encourage others to seek after it. In fact, the Lord Himself ensured that Paul would not turn his experience into an opportunity for pride by using Satan to give him that famous thorn in the flesh (Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, verses 7-10).
EPILOGUE TO THIS PAPER
It is tragic that the satanic realm has stepped in and packaged what should be uniquely-lovely spiritual moments into a universal religious experience which one can plug into by following a few clockwork instructions from spiritual con-men who know how to bend gullible people’s minds. When one sees a book with a cover which says, “Spiritual Power: How to get it – how to give it!”, listing what are claimed to be infallible techniques for the inducement of a mystico-religious experience, one cannot help being overwhelmed by its crass materialism, gross superficiality and sheer lack of biblical support. What is being advocated and practiced in such circles is not the genuine experience of Divine communion — an exclusively Christian experience — but a form of self-hypnosis through powerful suggestion techniques that are far more in the realm of the satanic and demonic rather than an inner experience of the Holy Spirit.
You may want to say to me, “But surely God would not allow His churches to fall into deception on such a vast scale!” God certainly keeps His true people from the powers of evil, and those disciples and gatherings of disciples which are faithful to Him He honours with His protecting love (e.g. Book of Revelation, chapter 3, verses 8-10). But the visible Church is now in the throes of a major time of sifting as a result of Divine judgment, in which there is a visible separation into two distinct kinds of gatherings — one true, the other false. I will have more to say about this ‘major time of sifting’ further below.
The true Ekklesia consists of disciples who are obedient to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, who establish their gatherings through healthy teaching, who base their salvation on what Christ did, and who are willing to die in order to defend the truth. The false church, on the other hand, consists of those whose ‘Christianity’ is based on personal revelations, fashionable ideas, and cleverly manipulated religious experiences. The one is obedient to the revealed will of God, the other is manipulated by the powers of darkness.
Also, we cannot ignore the fact that the visible church is a hotbed of infiltrators and even spooks (as I demonstrated in my book “Discerning the Signs of the Times”), who have crept in to distract people from the simplicity which is in Christ and what should truly constitute the genuine regeneration of a human being. What we have now representing ‘the Church’ in the world is a total hotch-potch of crazy ideas creating movements, megachurches and ministries influencing millions upon millions of gullible folks with fantasies and fallacies that beggar belief.
Divine Judgement Begins with the Church
While the final judgement on the corrupt world and its untransformed participants has been deferred to the end of this age, an integral part of the ongoing outworking of this age has been a continual Divine judgement on the Ekklesia. This is something which is very much overlooked in many of today’s churches.
What many (maybe even most) people who profess to be Christians do not realize is that “judgement begins at God’s household” (First Letter of Peter, chapter 4, Verse 17) in this world and visible church of apostate madness. But that judgment is not a judgement of condemnation such as will happen to the rest of the world at the end of this age at Christ’s return. When disciples of Christ are judged by God, “we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 32). The judgement on the Church involves undergoing “grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (First Letter of Peter, chapter 1, verses 6-7).
Genuine disciples of Christ are not here to have “total health and prosperity in the abundant life” or to be “raptured” away from affliction (two nonsenses which are falsely claimed as true in so many churches today), or to be continually immersed in a euphoric ‘happy-clappy’ fog of spaced-out elation. But we are intended to suffer such affliction on one level or another. Our faith is continually being tested and it is designed to be, as that is vital for our growth and maturation and is part of the process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit.
So Divine judgement has not yet fallen on those outside “the household of God”. That will come at the end of this age. They can still go about their business, obliviously “filling up their cup of evil” (Book of Genesis, chapter 15, verse 16), “heaping up their sins to the limit” (First Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 16), “filling up the measure of their guilt” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verse 32) and not yet be judged for it — although the level of evil is under some restraint until the time that restraint will be taken out of the way by God, thus allowing it to come to its full climax and to be ripe for full judgement at the end of the age. But judgement on the Church has existed throughout this age, for from the beginning of the age it has been the subject of God’s chastening hand. This is for the purposes of individual refining and to prove who are genuine disciples and who are not, or even to damn a whole assembly if they are propagating untruth, as is already the case with many churches and has been throughout this age.
This judgement on the household of God comes in many different ways. It may be through temptation to some kind of moral failure (personal sin). It may be through some kind of permitted demonic oppression. It may be through an affliction of some kind. It may be through a chronic or acute period of ill-health. It may be through persecution. It may be through the attraction to some false teaching which has been placed by design on your pathway to test your fidelity to truth — and surely this one is most relevant to this paper. It may involve a megachurch being given over completely to the extremes of its madness after propagating falsehood and irreverence for years. It may be through some spiritual doubts and inner turmoil. Whatever it is, all the facets of this judgement on the household of God are designed on the one hand to expose those false disciples who have no place in the Church and are impostors and, on the other hand, to refine the hearts of those who are genuine disciples of Christ.
This judgement which “begins at God’s household” is an agelong process. Those who are exposed as false disciples will eventually be “condemned along with the world”. Those who are proven to be genuine disciples, and who thus “persevere to the end” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verse 13), will escape the condemnation which will fall like a hammerblow on the world, while those genuine, persevering disciples will thus go on to form the population of the new creation in the age to come. The many apostatising ‘churches’ that we can see today, and which I have dealt with in this paper are symptomatic of judgement falling on the church, by which falsehood is being revealed and truth must be revered.
Some Facts About Peak Experiences
Today, we have an entire generation of professing Christians who are deeply ignorant of healthy teaching and have no understanding of the lessons of history. Having fallen prey to the ‘trickery of men’, they are being “carried around by every wind of teaching, and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming” (Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 14). Instead of being allowed to dictate the agenda of the Ekklesia, they need to be awakened to the fullness of their deception.
What needs to be pressed home to Pentecostals and Charismatics is that the ‘peak-experiences’ in which they wallow are not the sole province of the Christian. Those who do not profess to be ‘Christians’ are also subject to such things — although within the parameters of their own particular belief-system. The capacity for such experience is built into the psycho-physical nature of all human beings. In fact, such experiences are what mysticism and much of pagan religion as a whole are all about. Take this example from the recent experience of a famous psychiatrist:
“Then I had one of the strangest and most amazing experiences in my life, an experience which resulted in a radical shift in my belief system. After sitting quietly for five minutes, my body began to quiver and shake in an indescribable manner. Beautiful colors appeared all around me, and it seemed as though I had stepped out of my body and was looking down at it… I began to talk in tongues — a phenomenon I had heard about but discredited. A beautiful beam of light came into the room and I decided at that moment to stop evaluating what was happening and simply be one with the experience, to join it completely”.[ Gerald G. Jampolsky, “Teach Only Love: Seven Principles of Attitudinal Healing” (Bantam, 1983), p.12].
This experience did not happen during a Charismatic revival meeting or as the result of one of Richard Foster’s visualisation exercises, but in the inner rooms of an Indian guru known as Swami Muktananda! This psychiatrist — a friend of Crystal Cathedral founder and ‘Possibility Thinking’ teacher Robert Schuller — went on to found a Centre which propagates ‘New Thought’ occult teachings of ‘visualisation’ and ‘affirmation’. It is precisely for this reason that those who profess to be ‘Christians’ — if they do undergo a ‘peak-experience’ — must not automatically assume that it is of Divine origin. In fact, Satan is very good at manufacturing such experiences in order to confirm his own teachings, whereas the Lord God would generally use ordinary means to engender assurance in His people.
If you do undergo such an experience, you should ask yourself a number of questions:
- Does this experience make me believe in the truths of the Bible more fully than before?
- Do I have a greater desire to read the Bible as God’s word to the world?
- Is the Lord Jesus Christ more of a focus in my life than before?
- Do I begin to appreciate His deity as never before?
- Am I committed to keeping silent about this experience before others?
- Do I understand the importance of not attempting to reproduce the experience?
- Have I grasped the fact that this experience does not make me a better disciple than others who have never been through it?
- Have I realised that undergoing such an experience is not what being a disciple of Christ is really all about?
- Can I accept the fact that it is just a kind of one-time ‘icing on the cake’, a little gift which was appropriate for that moment but which may never come again?
If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to all these questions, then it is very unlikely that your experience was from the Holy Spirit of God. Unfortunately, this is the case with a great many experiences which professing ‘Christians’ claim to be having today. And ‘experience’ is the keyword here; for so many base their theology almost entirely on their subjective experience rather than on the objective word of God.
The Nuts and Bolts of a Hybrid Religion
This is precisely what has led to the Charismatic phenomenon today. It is a significant fact that Charismatic-Pentecostal religion has been most successful in certain predictable situations:
- In countries where there is already a high degree of shamanistic, spiritistic religion.
- In denominations and churches where there has been little or no expository biblical teaching.
- In those circles where there is already an avid acceptance of man-centred rather than God-honouring theology.
- In those churches where the authentication of religious truth is rooted in emotional expression and experience.
- In highly ecumenical circles where there is a naive desire to base the whole of the faith on some superficial creed.
- In those fellowships where dead ‘orthodoxy’ has prevailed for some decades.
The Charismatic Movement pulls all these strands together and creates a hybrid religion which destroys dependence on biblical revelation and grounds the truth in the illusions of sensory experience. And the stark upshot of all this is that you don’t have to be a Christian to be a Charismatic. Thus existentialism, mysticism, theological liberalism and superstition are commingled to form the basic ingredients of one of the most distinguished counterfeits to hit the Church since its Founder walked the earth.
A religion which seeks to “claim the victory” and wallow in mindless triumphalism is a religion which has forsaken the need to take up its cross daily, and to follow Jesus. Such a religion has failed to understand that it is in creature-weakness that Creator-strength is shown. A religion which would rather manufacture false ‘miracles’ and ‘healings’ than preach the Gospel of spiritual salvation has far more in common with pagan Shamanism than with the genuine spirituality of the Bible. A religion which rests its laurels on the ability to induce ‘ecstatic utterances’ in its adherents has forfeited the right to the ‘crown of life’. There is a burning need to demonstrate the startling fact that the Charismatic religion of today is not the same as the spirituality recorded in the Bible. There is an analogy here with Roman Catholicism, in the sense that it has enough in common with genuine elements of the faith to render it an air of biblical respectability to the untaught and unstable; but once a little research is carried out into its theology and practice, the differences between it and the breadth of biblical truth gape like yawning chasms.
If This is Christianity, then I’m a Banana!
As we draw to the close of this examination of the distinctive teachings of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement and their effects on the visible church in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, I feel heavy of heart that there should be so much division on these matters. I am always open to being convinced by truth. But the trouble is that the more I learn about these movements, the more I keep thinking, ‘If this is Christianity, then I’m a banana!’ I am sorry to put it so banally but that is what I have often thought as I have worked my way through a massive amount of visual and literary material over the last few decades.
Maybe you will say to me at this point, “If this is not a genuine Christian experience, why do those who undergo it feel a sense of renewed faith and zeal for God? Aren’t we to judge things ‘by their fruits’?” It may come as a complete surprise to learn that a seeming increased devotion, or reform of one’s personal life, or an apparent dedication to the faith and zeal for one’s Lord are not necessarily sure signs that the experience which produced them is of a pure origin. All the world’s religions and cults can produce exactly the same results, and the well-known Parable of the Sower shows that a professing “Christian” can have a very great apparent zeal that only lasts until the going gets rough (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 5-6, 20-21).
Zeal for God, if it is not accompanied by right knowledge, actually results in a self-centredness which ignores the will of God (Letter to the Romans, chapter 10, verses 2-3, cf. Book of Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 2). On the Day of Judgment there will be many such people who will claim to have regarded Jesus as their Lord, to have prophesied, cast out demons, and worked miracles in His name (and probably also spoken in so-called ‘Tongues’!). They will no doubt have been very enthusiastic people who will have imagined themselves to have been devoted to Christ and to the pathway of the disciple, but they will have been deluding themselves, and will be rejected by Him as those who ‘practice lawlessness’ (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 21-23). Bear in mind that these folks imagined that they were ‘super-Christians’ yet in reality they were so steeped in folly and rebellion that they are excluded by Christ from heaven. How had this come about? Surely, it was because they derived their understanding of God’s will from their subjective experience — ‘It works and I feel great!’ — instead of from His objective truth (something about which the Lord Jesus warned His disciples in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse 20). And that is the primary problem in so many churches today, which makes life hell for anyone trying to find a pure and faithful group of disciples to be part of, especially if one also does not want to be part of the opposite kind of group in the spectrum — a formalistic, authoritarian, nit-picking bunch of judgemental zealots.
People who have been so-called ‘slain in the spirit’ will often make the claim that they have an increased hunger for God’s Word. But if that is the case, why do they indulge in the use of ‘worship aids’ and religious rituals which do not reflect reverence and awe due to the Divine Godhead? If they truly hunger after God’s word, why do they continue to speak or pray in pagan gibberish, imagining it to be the biblical gift of ‘Languages’? If they claim a desire to be faithful to God and His word, why do they give out and soak up the most outlandish and banal statements as prophecies and ‘words of knowledge’? How is it that in spite of their desire to study God’s word they don’t perceive their disobedience to it and incongruity of behaviour in relation to it? The questions could go on and on.
However zealously people may regard Jesus as their ‘Lord’, it is not necessarily the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. As Jesus Himself said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verse 21). The only sure sign that there has been a true work of the Holy Spirit in a person is if there is a desire for complete obedience and discipleship to the will of God and a hunger for truth which is all-consuming. In the final analysis, that is the only fruit by which these phenomena can be put under the spotlight of human judgement.
The Three Things in the Church Which Satan Seeks to Undermine
There are three things which Satan desperately seeks to undermine in the Church during the present Gospel Age: 1) The deliverance of the believer from the power of darkness into the kingdom of Christ (the true deliverance, cf. Letter to the Colossians, chapter 1, verse 13), 2) the forgiveness of the sins of the one who truly believes and becomes a disciple of Christ (the true healing, cf. Gospel of Mark, chapter 2, verses 10-11,17) and 3) the gift of the indwelling Spirit to each and every one who believes in the Lord Christ (the true Baptism with the Holy Spirit, cf. Letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verses 15-16). To this end, the old serpent has induced teachers in the churches to offer teaching on those three areas in order to undermine them by providing pseudo-deliverance, pseudo-healing and a pseudo-Baptism with the Holy Spirit to people en masse through a vast plethora of pseudo-prophets, pseudo-teachers performing pseudo-signs and wonders capable of deceiving the very children of God (if that were possible).
Not Worldwide Revival but Global Apostasy
Many teachers in the Charismatic/Pentecostal Movement claim that the ‘Endtimes’ will be characterised by signs and wonders from God coupled with a ‘worldwide revival’; and they interpret their present-day ministry in this way. One such example is the Anglican Bishop, David Pytches, who has been popular among charismatics for decades [see his book “Some Said it Thundered: A Personal Encounter with the Kansas City Prophets”, Hodder & Stoughton, 1990, p.49. (Incidentally, the Kansas City Prophets of the 1980s have since been shown to have been false ones and just another Charismatic chimera)]. However, the Bible does not support this wayward notion of ‘worldwide revival’, but instead shows that the ‘Endtimes’ will be marked by ‘lying wonders’ from the Devil and his human agents (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 9; Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verses 13-14), riding on the back of a global apostasy (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 3ff; Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 24ff). The knowledge of these facts has forced me to take the uncompromising stand that I have in the pages of this paper. I have read through it many times but see nothing that I would hesitate about or would want to retract. (Though if I can be proven wrong about anything that I have ever written, I would immediately retract it). Despite my disdain for Charismatic practices, I only have love and an outstretched hand for those who have been the deceived victims of this subterfuge. If you, dear reader, are one of those deceived victims and you are now beginning to doubt it all, please feel free to contact me at the email address below if you want to talk to a friendly ear and one who understands where you are at.
Unloosing the Demoniacal Bond
I fully recognise that it is very difficult for those who have been deceived by Charismatic shenanigans to disentangle themselves from the hold it has over them, for there is a demoniacal bond. But nothing is too difficult for God. He has already brought many disciples of Christ through that hellhole and beyond, and He will no doubt bring many more. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who names the precious name of Christ in that Movement will test the spirits which have attracted them to it, and that they will be honest enough to cast them to one side and seek the fullness of faith and fellowship outside of the madness to which they have subscribed. It all comes down to a straight choice between religious sensuality and biblical spirituality. The one merely makes you feel good for the moment, but the other one actually does you good… for eternity.
Here you can download a PDF format file of this paper:
© 2023, Alan Morrison / The Diakrisis Project. All Rights Reserved. [The copyright on my works is merely to protect them from any wanton plagiarism which could result in undesirable changes (as has actually happened!). Readers are free to reproduce my work, so long as it is in the same format and with the exact same content and its origin is acknowledged]
Blessings in Christ. Do you have this in Spanish???
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Hello Joe, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, my articles are only in English. But I will see if I can find someone to translate.
Happy Birthday! 😃
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