Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Word of Faith and Latter Rain Movements

In addition to the fact that the Voice of Healing Revival provided a theatrical means for Jim Jones to build his following in the People's Temple, it also produced two very dangerous heretical movements which are infiltrating Christianity to this day. These two movements are the Latter Rain Movement and the Word of Faith Movement. Bentley, like Jim Jones has quite obviously been influenced by the theatrical show of the movement- thus taking it to an entirely new level. He has also been influenced by both movements as clearly seen when looking into his preaching!

The Word of Faith Movement gained its popularity through the ministry of Oral Roberts- who had his ministry launched to success through the Voice of Healing Movement in the 1940's. The basic heretical teaching of the movement is that faith is a force which is put into motion by our words. God himself is bound by the force of our words. For example, if I were to say I am a millionaire- God would be bound by the my words to make me a millionaire.

While most churches that would have to be termed Word of Faith do not claim such, their teachings reflect it. One thing the Word of Faith Movement has done effectively is have a statement of faith consistent with church history on the essentials so that they can make it look like they are within the realm of Orthodox Christianity. From an examination of the teachings taught from the actual pulpit- it is apparent that such a statement of faith is nothing more than a means of window-dressing. 2 Peter 2:1 we are warned that there will be false prophets among us that will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Whereas most cults will tell you straight up what they believe in a statement of faith, the Word of Faith Movement sugarcoats it by giving it to you in bits and pieces. Most of the controversial and heretical statements are spoken from the pulpit. Statements like the following: "Satan conquered Jesus on the cross." "Jesus had to pay a ransom to Satan in order to purchase our atonement." "We are little gods." "The Trinity is composed of nine persons." Word of Faith teachers include teleevangelists like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin (whose movement Bentley is a part of), Robert Tilton, TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Morrus Cerillo, Creflo Dollar, Paul and Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, Eddie Long, Richard and Oral Roberts, Marilyn Hickey, and David Yonggi Cho among many others too numerous to name. Most of them can be seen on TBN or the Inspiration Network.

While TBN and INSP showcase many Word of Faith teachers, GodTV highlights teachers of the Latter Rain Movement like Rodney Howard-Browne, Patricia King, Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones etc. Much like the Word of Faith Movement, you will very rarely find a church that actually claims to be Latter Rain. Most churches like Morningstar Ministries in Rock Hill, S.C. have a statement of faith as a means of window-dressing but is contradicted or expanded upon if you take the time to listen to the actual preaching and teaching.

The Latter Rain Movement is not much different than other cult that has existed throughout history. Its teachers claim that the church has been in an apostate state for years and that they are called to restore the church to perfect truth by means of their prophecies and revelations in order to pave the way for the return of Christ who will come once the church is perfected. Though the teaching appears new, like most heresies it actually has its origins in the first few centuries of the church when a heretical teacher named Montanus proclaimed himself as the prophet sent for the End to restore the church to all truth.

The primary heretical teachings of the Latter Rain Movement are the tangible anointing, the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David, and the Manifest Sons of God doctrine. The idea that the anointing is tangible is the driving force behind the success of revivals like the Pensacola Outpouring, the Toronto Blessing, and currently the Florida Healing Outpouring. That is why people feel that they have to go to these places in order to receive a special touch from God. In truth I John 2:20 tells us that the anointing of the Holy Spirit abides withus from the beginning of our salvation and therefore is not something that can be touched or transferred.

The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David teaches that there is a perfect form of worship which will lead us into perfection. In places like Morningstar, Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer, and the Florida Healing revival- this form of worship is used with much repetition of the choruses. In actuality, it is more like a chant than anything else- thus imitating the worship of Eastern/New Age Religions. That is not such a surprise these days since we see someone like Bentley claiming New Age practices under the banner of the Christian faith. The New Age invasion of Christianity has long been attempted but never has it been so successful as with Bentley. In the same way that he Socialist message in America was attempted long before Jim Jones, but was never used to gain such a huge following in the way that he did before he led 918 people to drink koolaid laced with cyanide in the greatest mass cult suicide in history.

Finally, the Latter Rain Movement teaches that instead of Christ returning in glory- he is actually waiting for the church to become perfect so that he can literally incarnate his body in the form of the corporate church. This is the manifest Sons of God doctrine. None of these teachings come out directly in a statement of faith but there is clear evidence of them in the reading of the leaders' books and bulletins. In The Final Quest, Rick Joyner for instance states that the whole Christian community is about to be consumed by a bloody Civil War. He uses such a statement to validate that there will be a no way of worship and ministry to replace the old. While methods change throughout history, God's word must remain as supreme authority. In the teachings and practices of the Latter Rain Movement- it clearly has not. As an example to show how Joyner often departs from his window-dressed statement of faith there are a couple of quotes he has made in which he says that Jesus was not a man, but rather a spirit. Such a teaching was the basis of the cult of Gnosticism from which the writings of Nag Hammadi (including the Gospel of Thomas emerged).

Recently in defense of Bentley's frequent experiences with angels, Rick Joyner posted a Q & A bulletin in which he stated "The Bible talks about angels far more than anyone. Having encounters with angels is more normal than not having them. Some people I think are concerned because they are not having encounters themselves. Biblically the lack of encounters with angels should be more of a concern than having encounters with them." In other words according to Joyner, if you are not having encounters with angels- there must be something spiritually wrong with you. I am currently looking into the teachings of Gnosticism as I think that idea is consistent with the teachings of Gnosticism. I will verify as soon as I have more information.

Both of the above movements are a very dangerous shift away from historical Christianity. Looking at them now, I get a good chuckle. I am reminded of a time when I myself had to come out of some of the darkness I have written about here. It is very dangerous. This ideology threatens Christianity's foundation in the same way that Communism/Socialism did 50 years ago. Now a leader like Todd Bentley who holds to the beliefs of these two movements has gained popularity and notoriety with many followers who would die for his cause. In much the same way that many followers were willing to die for the cause of Jim Jones. That is why we must beware and we must warn everyone about this dark and deadly deception.

In my next post, I will write about the manifestations you see in modern day "revival movements." I will talk about what the source of those manifestations is and will tell of how they are now being accepted in the church. I will furthermore expose the origins of these practices tracing their history back to Eastern/New Age religious practice. I will ultimately answer the question is it possible to use pagan practices to draw closer to God as long as our mindset is on the person of Jesus Christ.