Bethel Church: The Popular Charismatic Cult – John Boruff

The ATS Bible Dictionary says this about Bethel:

House of God, the name of a city west of Hai, on the confines of the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin (Gen. 12:8; 28:10-22), and occupying the spot where Jacob slept and had his memorable dream, the name he then gave it superseding the old name Luz (Judges 1:23). Thirty years after, he again pitched his tent there (Gen. 35:1-15). It was captured by Joshua, and given to Benjamin (Josh. 12:9; 18:22). The Ephraimites, however, expelled the Canaanites (Judges 1:22-26). Here the ark of the covenant, and probably the tabernacle, long remained (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 10:3). Samuel held his court here in turn (1 Sam. 7:16). After Solomon, it became a seat of gross idolatry; Jeroboam choosing it as the place for one of his golden calves, from the sacredness previously attached to it (1 Kings 12:29). THE PROPHETS WERE CHARGED WITH MESSAGES AGAINST BETHEL (1 Kings 13:1, 2; Jer. 48:13; Amos 3:14; 7:10).

If it weren’t for all the alarming exposé videos coming out on YouTube about Bethel Church, then I wouldn’t feel so compelled to take a stand against it, but now I feel like I have to. The first time I heard about Bill Johnson and his Bethel Church in Redding, California, was in college. A friend of mine from summer camp (I was a counselor) showed me a book from there: Kris Vallotton’s Basic Training for the Prophetic Ministry. I skimmed it over and read a section where Kris had an open vision of a guy and it brought him to repentance. I was so moved by this, that I soon became very hungry for prophetic visions and dreams in my personal life. I also found that these experiences are not only to be expected by New Testament Christians, but that they are the primary way that the Holy Spirit communicates with prophets (Num. 12:6; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17, etc). So, I was thankful for that little bit of Vallotton influence. I never bought the book or studied it thoroughly; I just began to pray and seek and contemplate the face of God, and listen to God, and the Holy Spirit began to speak specifically to me from time to time, in a theological framework of sermons by Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and A. W. Tozer via sermonindex.net: a framework which I later identified as Wesleyan-holiness theology: this was ten years ago, in 2006.

Bill Johnson (2013)My friend’s campus pastor had taken a personal leave of absence for several months; and traveled to Bethel Church to learn about miraculous gifts from their School of Supernatural Ministry; during this time, my friend rented out his house, and an assistant pastor took over the leadership while he was gone. I had seen this Bethel Church as a sort of charismatic renewal movement, and I could see nothing wrong…although my actual knowledge or personal interest in Bethel was very limited. This pastor was a Derek Prince fan; and I had recently read They Shall Expel Demons, so I was a fan too. So, I just thought of Bill Johnson like Derek Prince: just another helpful charismatic teacher on spiritual gifts, but more up to date for this generation. It was in 2006 that Bethel Church broke away from the Assemblies of God, which has a solid Biblical theology. But just like William Branham, when charismatic “prophet” types turn away from AG’s theology, they can get into weird views that contradict the Word of God. This has definitely happened with Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in the past 10 years. Some people have compared Johnson to John Wimber, as a charismatic leader; but I definitely disagree. JOHN WIMBER WAS WAY MORE GROUNDED IN SCRIPTURE THAN BILL JOHNSON! This is why he attracted conservative evangelical theologians from across the world to support the Vineyard (such as Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere, John White, Rich Nathan, and Don Williams, to name a few). The Association of Vineyard Churches, along with the Assemblies of God, passed muster and was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). But at this point, there is no way that Bethel Church would be accepted: and Bethel is planting churches in different states; they are actually trying to create a new charismatic denomination. Their popularity seems to be in their praise and worship music and their Jesus Culture band more than it has to do with their teaching and supernatural stories. Compare the Vineyard statement of faith with what you can find on the website of Bethel Church; and you’ll see what I mean.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-23, NKJV: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “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. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!’”

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Bethel is not a church that bases its ministry on Bible teaching. It is all based on subjective spiritual experiences; and then they twist the Bible to support their experiences non-judgmentally. They don’t believe the devil can speak to them; they have little to no Biblical discernment. As the years progress, it seems THEY ARE NOT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICALS ANYMORE; and are becoming a lot more like a liberal Christian ecumenical version of THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT. There are some people, such as discernment ministries and heresy hunters, which are hyper prone to call anything miraculous in charismatic churches “New Age,” but I’m not like that. I wouldn’t say that about IHOP, or the Brownsville Revival, or the Vineyard, or even MorningStar Ministries (although I think Rick Joyner is carnal and overly tolerant of sin). But in the case of Bethel Church, and especially after the publication of their weird book on quantum mysticism called The Physics of Heaven (2012), one has to only conclude that Bethel Church in particular is sliding into New Age ideas (and actually already has). It seems that ever since 2012, when this book came out, Bethel Church has gotten weirder and weirder and more false; and hundreds if not thousands of videos have come out on YouTube against it.

The biggest problem I have with Bethel Church is their theology (or lack thereof). What are the YouTubers out there saying about Bethel?

  1. Some Bethel people do Christian yoga (even one leader).
  2. Grave sucking (some say this is occult; it is weird; not so sure: 2 Kgs. 3:21).
  3. Jenn Johnson blasphemes and compares the Holy Spirit to the genie in Aladdin.
  4. Some youth in Bethel use the f-word and nobody corrects them.
  5. They depreciate the Bible and exalt experience of the Holy Spirit instead.
  6. Bill says people should follow him “off the map” of the Bible (When Heaven, p. 76).
  7. There is an anti-theological attitude; and an almost despising of sound doctrine.
  8. Some youth have expressed universalist “love” ideas (cp. Rob Bell’s Love Wins).
  9. Painful electrical power coursing through hands and body (cp. kundalini power).
  10. Seductive female musicians dancing, sexy attire, breathy singing, during worship.
  11. Non-judgmental tolerance of theological errors; hostile to Biblical truth speakers.
  12. They don’t preach lordship salvation or repentance from sin (they scoff at it).
  13. They have Word of Faith / prosperity gospel views.
  14. Beni Johnson is co-pastor: exercising authority over men (against 1 Tim. 2:12).
  15. Beni does “earthing” to get healing power from the ground (New Age).
  16. Beni says “Wakey! Wakey!” to wake up sleeping giant angels in the desert.
  17. Beni does reflexology.
  18. Beni says people saved not by the Gospel, but by angels ringing bells.
  19. Signing tithing contracts to remain a church member (against 2 Cor. 9:7).
  20. Shepherding Movement / covering theology / authoritarianism (“culture of honor”).
  21. No limit on number of prophecies in church services (1 Cor. 14:29).
  22. Deification and self-glorification of charismatics (theosis / against Acts 14:14).
  23. Arian view of Christ – sometimes expressed as kenosis, sometimes not.
  24. False claims of healing.
  25. Quantum Mysticism book (The Physics of Heaven).
  26. Young people wallowing on the floor in a “drunken spirit” (looks like an orgy).
  27. One young man said he can use animals to prophesy words from God (New Age).
  28. Against open-air preaching of lordship salvation.
  29. Annoyance to the community of Redding, CA (contradicts 1 Tim. 3:7).
  30. Bill Johnson drives an Aston Martin (as of 2015): materialism (Jas. 5:5).
  31. Gold dust and other gold miracles are demonic signs for the money preaching.
  32. Respect for Benny Hinn (false prophet; materialistic preacher).
  33. Friends with Patricia King (sadly, she was the only “holiness” in the prophetic).
  34. Friends with Todd Bentley (even after adultery; cussing, laughing; cheap grace).
  35. Friends with John Crowder (blasphemous antinomian and universalist).

John Crowder is an outspoken blasphemer, antinomian, and universalist, as is evident on his Jesus Trip videos (see my video “Three Concerns About John Crowder”), and he is welcomed with open arms into Bethel Church as a teacher; there is a video of Brian “Head” Welch with John Crowder passing communion out to people; and then in the blasphemous Holy Ghost movie (2014), Welch says that God led him to join the cussing and sexually immoral band Korn again, after years before, he said to do that would be considered backsliding. In the Holy Ghost movie, Bill Johnson is revered as a leader in all of the charismatic ministries represented. Bethel Church is a kind of headquarters for this false charismatic movement. This movie is so blasphemous; over and over, the traditional evangelical lordship Gospel is disrespected, maligned, and ridiculed. Instead, a new universalist gospel of love emerges as what “God” is really trying to say through these New Agey, false, charismatic prophets. There is even a time when a “praise and worship leader” goes into a Hindu temple and sings a song to “God” and everyone is getting along. Afterwards, he says, “We’re not trying to convert anybody.”

UNIVERSALISM. ANTINOMIANISM. HERESY. NEW AGE. STAY AWAY.

I would recommend avoiding the ministries of all these people who support Bethel Church:

  1. Bill Johnson
  2. Beni Johnson
  3. Kris Vallotton
  4. Kevin Dedmon
  5. Andrew White
  6. Brother Yun (sorry to see that)
  7. Claudio Friedzon
  8. David Hogan
  9. Georgian Banov
  10. Graham Cooke
  11. Harold Eberle
  12. HEIDI BAKER (definitely stay away)
  13. James Maloney
  14. Larry Randolph
  15. Lou Engle (sorry to see that)
  16. Mahesh Chavda
  17. Mario Murillo
  18. Randall Worley
  19. Randy Clark
  20. Ray Hughes
  21. Sy Rogers
  22. Tracy Evans

Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:11-15).


YouTube Exposé Videos on Bethel Church

I personally don’t agree with eveything on these videos. For instance, I believe in Christian contemplative prayer (Christ-centered), but I reject centering prayer. I believe people can be slain in the Spirit during true Gospel preaching, and I believe all of the miraculous gifts are for today. I just side against the “lawless enthusiasts” of Bethel Church; and I am against them trying to hijack Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity with antinomianism and universalism, that’s all. I would recommend watching Tony Miano’s videos (“Why I Must Speak Out,” “Bethel Church and the NAR,” “On the Road”) and Andrew Strom (“BILL JOHNSON & THE NEW AGE”), and “Bethel Redding Exposed.”

  1. Bill Johnson on Wretched Radio with Todd Friel – 3/26/09 (Man cusses on stage with Todd Bentley at Lakeland Revival and everyone laughs; Bill Johnson compares Todd Bentley to the woman caught in adultery; however, Todd wasn’t told “go and sin no more,” he’s still “married” to the adulteress: no regard for 1 Timothy and Titus).
  2. Bill Johnson’s and Mike Bickle’s False Teachings – 12/28/12 (I disagree with some things in this video. I think that Bickle himself has kept himself safe from supporting heresies that have cropped up by some of his associates; anti-theological attitude; charismatic cult followings of Johnson or Bickle due to the downplaying of Biblical authority; I disagree with this video’s cessationist view of Christ, as if the Scripture never said, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12); quotes Bill Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth, p. 76, where he says charismatics should be willing to go “off the map” of Bible knowledge in order to experience supernatural things; man acting like a turkey at the Toronto Blessing, at which Bill Johnson got his “power” from (“power animal” / New Age); Bickle and the “manifested sons of God,” sensual “bridal paradigm,” revelations for an elite end-times “Joel’s Army” (Latter Rain).
  3. Exposing the False Teaching of Bill Johnson at Bethel Church – 8/13/13
  4. Escaping Bethel Church, Bill Johnson and Jesus Culture – 10/29/13 (Probably kundalini spiritual power that electrically shocks, burns, and hurts your body; sensual women in worship; non-judgmental tolerance; no lordship salvation).
  5. Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church – 12/13/13 (I disagree with Miano labeling Mike Bickle a false prophet; states that John Piper associated with Jesus Culture once at an event; have a false Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), false gospel, false Holy Spirit; Word of Faith prosperity gospel; Beni Johnson mocked Tony Miano’s call to repentance and faith (the lordship salvation gospel); they deny original sin (Eric Johnson); “honor the leaders” (authoritarianism / shepherding movement); John Crowder identified as a friend of Bethel Church).
  6. Bethel Church and the NAR’s False Ideas of Glory – 12/21/13 (No limit on number of prophecies in church services (1 Cor. 14:29); I disagree with Miano’s cessationism; deification of charismatic Christians; Arian view of Jesus; friends with Todd Bentley; Patricia King in 2015 on Facebook said, “I deeply respect Bill Johnson…as a lead apostle”; how opposite to the Reformed view of “glory to God alone” (soli Deo gloria).
  7. Jesus Culture: The Next Generation of Heretics – 5/31/14 (Exalting the presence of God over Bible study; I disagree with labeling John Wimber as a heretic, simply because Jesus Culture was influenced by Vineyard music (but they do say they are partnered with Bethel Church); Heather Clark (seductive musician); Bill Johnson blessed Todd Bentley at the false Lakeland Revival (and after); ecstatic prophecy by Jessa Bentley; they respect Benny Hinn; they respect Reinhard Bonnke (I’m undecided about; has weak statement of faith, but still strongly evangelical).
  8. Women From Bethel – 7/1/14 (Yoga; universalism; scoffing at lordship salvation).
  9. Lying Signs and Wonders – 10/26/14 (Neo-universalism connected with many charismatics and their miracles; Beni says salvation by angels ringing bells; Benny Hinn blatantly teaches that born again Christians are little gods: refers to John Lanagan’s The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson; money-centered preaching and gold dust, gold filling miracles, jewels, diamonds).
  10. On the Road: The Dangers of Bethel Redding – 5/26/15 (I disagree with Miano’s statement “I don’t have a problem with a guy being rich” driving a ridiculously expensive sports car; Johnson drives a $250k Aston Martin; no preaching of repentance and faith (no lordship salvation); false claims of healing; Beni Johnson is co-pastor, exercising authority over men; Beni “earthing”; Beni says she can wake up giant angels in the desert by saying “Wakey! Wakey!”; annoyance to their community; against open-air gospel preaching; one kid said he can use animals to prophesy words from God (sounds like “power animals” / New Age).
  11. BILL JOHNSON & THE NEW AGE – 9/14/15 (Grave sucking; young people wallowing on the floor in a “drunken spirit” (looks like an orgy); Beni likes reflexology; Physics of Heaven).
  12. Bethel Blasphemy Alert – 9/22/15 (Seth Dahl, the Children’s Pastor, has a vision of Jesus holding him, and says, “Please forgive Me,” on behalf of a pastor who said emotionally abusive things to him: totally demonic blasphemy…JESUS ISN’T TO BLAME…JESUS IS SINLESS! (1 John 3:5).
  13. The Heretic Bill Johnson of Bethel Church – 12/24/15 (Says that Bill Johnson denies the deity of Christ; signing tithing contracts for church membership; “apostolic” authoritarianism; reference to R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec’s A New Apostolic Reformation? on apologeticsindex.org).
  14. False Prophet Bill Johnson EXPOSED – 1/6/16 (Heidi Baker at 8:05 at Bethel Church laying hands on a young man and imparting a painful spiritual power into his body, probably a New Age spirit, kundalini possibly, Baker expresses universalist view in Holy Ghost).
  15. Bethel Church Horror Story – 5/11/16 (Yoga and f-words).
  16. Bethel Redding Exposed – 5/18/16 (Yoga; scoffing at lordship preaching; universalist).
  17. MANY, MANY, MORE
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BILL JOHNSON and the NEW AGE: Kundalini Warning – Andrew Strom

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Review of Wayne Grudem’s “The Gift of Prophecy” – John Boruff

Wayne Grudem - The Gift of ProphecyThis was a hard read, but I felt like it solidified my views on the prophetic. This book is in a way the first and foremost authority on the subject of charismatic prophecy in Third Wave evangelicalism. Liberalism, universalism, and the New Age movement have no point of reference to the theological framework that Grudem is teaching from. Rather, he is a Baptist charismatic pastor with some background in the Vineyard church during John Wimber’s days (this book was originally published in 1988 and revised in 2000). The first endorsement on the back of the book is by Wimber, who says, “This conservative evangelical scholarly work gives a solid theological basis for further development of a practical theology of spiritual gifts.” This is a Vineyard book. An endorsement is also given by Stanley Horton, the foremost theologian in the Assemblies of God: “thorough, Biblical, and practical.” Grudem is addressing Reformed Christians (both cessationists and charismatics), Baptist charismatics, Vineyard people, Assemblies of God people, and non-denominational evangelical charismatics. He especially seems to be targeting pastors, because the substance of the book is about how charismatic prophecy is of a substantially lesser authority than the authority of Scripture. In fact, this seems to be the main theme of this 400 page tome. Personal prophecies are to be judged and evaluated by pastors and their churches by the standard of Biblical doctrine:

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21: Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Churches are encouraged to be charismatic, to have prophets that have revelations, who then prophesy those revelations during church services, which are then supposed to be judged by those listening (or tested according to the Bible), and to hold fast to whatever was found to be good in such prophecies, and to reject what is bad or useless. Cessationists, who reject charismatic prophecy altogether, are found guilty of quenching the Holy Spirit’s activity in the church services. 1 Corinthians 14:29: Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. A maximum of three prophecies per church service is allowed, so that the rest of the time can be given to worship and Bible teaching (1 Cor. 14:26). The interpretation of tongues is a form of prophecy; and so this would also fall under the three-prophecies-per-church-service limit.

I disagree with Grudem about 1 Corinthians 14:30: “If anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.” Grudem interprets this to mean that personal charismatic prophecies were held to be so unimportant and so unauthoritative as to mean that if one prophet is sharing a revelation during a service, that the next prophet should stand up and actually interrupt the first prophet, and the first prophet should be okay with that, and not continue to prophesy the rest of his revelation (p. 59). I don’t see this at all being in agreement with doing things decently and in order or not in a spirit of confusion, for God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:40, 33). Adam Clarke actually agreed with Grudem’s view, and says “interrupt another” is the meaning of “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” in 14:32; but Wesley, in commenting on that verse, speaks against the idea of ecstatic prophecy (Grudem agrees with Wesley in ch. 5), saying that a frenzied, and uncontrollable ecstasy is the way of the pagan prophets, and not the way of the Christian prophets, who have total control over their rational faculties as they are sharing revelations with others (prophesying). But I agree with Matthew Henry against the view of Grudem and Clarke regarding 14:30. Henry says:

Indeed, it is by many understood that the former speaker should immediately hold his peace. But this seems unnatural, and not so well to agree with the context. For why must one that was speaking by inspiration be immediately silent upon another man’s being inspired, and suppress what was dictated to him by the same Spirit? Indeed, he who had the new revelation might claim liberty of speech in his turn, upon producing his vouchers; but why must liberty of speech be taken from him who was speaking before, and his mouth stopped, when he was delivering the dictates of the same Spirit, and could produce the same vouchers? Would the Spirit of God move one to speak, and, before he had delivered what he had to say, move another to interrupt him, and put him to silence? This seems to me an unnatural thought. Nor is it more agreeable to the context, and the reason annexed (1 Corinthians 14:31): That all might prophesy, one by one, or one after another, which could not be where any one was interrupted and silenced before he had done prophesying; but might easily be if he who was afterwards inspired forbore to deliver his new revelation till the former prophet had finished what he had to say. And, to confirm this sense, the apostle quickly adds, The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:33); that is, the spiritual gifts they have leave them still possessed of their reason, and capable of using their own judgment in the exercise of them.

The practical conclusion to draw is that during a charismatic church service, everyone is sitting down. Then Prophet #1 stands up to share a prophecy; and as he is prophesying, it so happens that Prophet #2 gets a revelation while Prophet #1 is speaking. The course of action to be followed, would be for Prophet #2 to stand up so that Prophet #1 could see him, and get the cue that he had also received a revelation that needed to be shared. And out of humility and respect, Prophet #1 wraps up what he is trying to say (he gets to the point, and refuses to disclose the many details of his dream or vision); and then he sits down, and opens up the floor for Prophet #2 to start speaking. The same procedure should be followed if Prophet #3 gets a revelation and stands up. I’m pretty sure the early Quakers and the early Pentecostals followed this practice.

Female prophets (or prophetesses) are to remain subject to male leadership in the church. They are not to assume a Bible teaching position over men (because it carries the authority of God’s law) (1 Tim. 2:12); and they are to prophesy in a gentle, respectful manner that respects the men in the church (1 Cor. 11:5). Feminism and the Jezebel spirit should have no place in a Biblical evangelical charismatic church.

“Thus says the Lord” is advised against in modern charismatic prophecy, because that phrase carries with it the idea of the absolute, unquestioned authority of an Old Testament prophet. Such an authority Christian prophets simply do not have, but rather their prophecies are to be sifted, tested, judged, and evaluated; and if necessary, rejected. It is better to preface modern prophecies with something that conveys less certainty, more humility, and less authority; something that clearly communicates that what is going to be shared could possibly come from the Holy Spirit, but that the prophet fully understands it should be tested and judged by Scripture. Saying something like, “I feel like the Holy Spirit is saying…” is much safer language.

Grudem’s most mystical part of the book is chapter 5 (“The Source of Prophecies”), which was originally titled, “The Psychological State of the Prophet,” in ch. 2 of his more technical version called The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians. But I was actually not impressed too much. He spends most of his time teaching that prophecy is not ecstatic, which I think might be a stretch, seeing that Peter’s trance occurs in Acts 10:10. But I will admit that sharing a revelation (or the act of prophesying) is always possible while in a rational state of mind. Receiving a revelation, however, is a different story: and I think the Bible allows for some degree of ecstasy or trance during visions. Grudem mentions a few mild mystical experiences by name, and says these can be revelations: “words, thoughts, or mental pictures” (p. 110). Overall I was left unimpressed at his lack of teaching about these experiences, since there is such a lack of such experiences in the body of Christ. In all the 400 pages of this book, there is also no section on dream interpretation, which I saw as a real weakness. This made me think that Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Voice of God might be stronger in this area; as well was Herman Riffel’s materials (Voice of God, Learning to Hear God’s Voice, Dreams: Wisdom Within, Dream Interpretation, and his CD series on Christian Dream Interpretation). In the whole book, nothing is mentioned about contemplative prayer either, which the Catholic saints used to see as the main way to hear the Holy Spirit and receive direct revelation (for direction on this, see Augustin Poulain’s The Graces of Interior Prayer). In the later 2000 edition, Grudem does briefly mention “intuition, ‘hunches,’ dreams, feelings of being led by the Holy Spirit” (p. 305).

It seems that Grudem’s favorite concept of direct revelation is that of random thoughts popping into people’s heads during a prayer meeting (pp. 142-143). He lends no great emphasis to dreams, visions, and their interpretation; which I see as a very great weakness: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream” (Num. 12:6). The Bible’s emphasis is on dreams and visions as the source of prophecies, not random thoughts in a rational frame of mind. I won’t discount random thoughts during concentrated prayer, but I just want to lay the emphasis on dreams and visions as the source of revelations and prophecies. Acts 2:17: “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” 1 Samuel 9:9: “Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: ‘Come, let us go to the seer’; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.” Jim Goll (The Seer, p. 22) teaches that prophets more so hear God’s voice but seers more so have dreams and visions; but 1 Samuel 9:9 equates prophets and seers. A seer of dreams and visions is “now called a prophet” or spokesman for God. I think Grudem would have done better to emphasize the life of a Christian dreamer, how to experience more visions, and how to interpret dreams and visions with Biblical symbolism (as in Ira Milligan’s Understanding the Dreams You Dream).

1 Corinthians 14:3: “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. In his book The Christian Prophet (1798), Adam Clarke defined edification to mean “building up the soul in the knowledge, love, and image of God”; exhortation: “calling the soul near to God” (James 4:8); comfort: to be Christian counseling, bringing assurance of salvation. George Fox, the Quaker leader saw Hebrews 3:15 (“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”) as an exhortation, or an urgent warning against sinning, backsliding, or apostasy (Journal, p. 185, year 1673). I believe that both Clarke and Fox are correct: a prophetic exhortation can be either just a calling of people to come closer to God; but it can also be a warning against apostasy, because by it people are warned against apostasy from God, and are automatically urged to come back to God. Any modern-day charismatic prophet that rejects such exhortations, or warning prophecies, is probably a false prophet who only flatters people and speaks smooth things (Isa. 30:10). But David Wilkerson’s The Vision, for example, contains all the elements of a truly Biblical charismatic prophecy: edifications, exhortations (both warnings and callings to God), and comforts.

Chapter 12 has some pretty strong arguments against cessationism; and maintains the charismatic continuationist view that the miraculous gifts will continue until the return of Christ.

On page 224, Grudem lists some books on prophecy that influenced this book, the most prominent was apparently Bruce Yocum’s Prophecy (1976) by a Catholic charismatic; I also feel drawn towards George Mallone’s Those Controversial Gifts (1983; Vineyard; I think this might be more of a dreams and visions theology). Further thinking on this made me want to overlook anything associated with Kenneth Hagin or any Word of Faith prosperity gospel preachers involved with prophecy, as that would probably be the spirit of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11). This would mean excluding John and Paula Sandford (The Elijah Task); and even John Paul Jackson (Understanding Dreams and Visions) and James Goll (The Seer), both of which speak favorably of Hagin. Although Sandford and Jackson were seers, I don’t think they purified their theology enough for me to feel one in spirit with them. I feel much more comfortable taking my dreams and visions theology from Herman Riffel and Ira Milligan.

Appendix A: “The Office of Apostle” argues that the apostolic ministry ceased with the death of the last of the twelve apostles. I would disagree with Grudem on this point. Grudem’s view is that the primary function of an apostle was to write Scripture (see also p. 314). But I don’t see the word “apostle” ever used this way in the New Testament. The word simply means “one sent.” There is no question that the original twelve apostles were special, because they had physically been with Jesus for His entire ministry (Acts 1:21-22); and as such, they had earned a special sense of authority to write Scripture that was recognized by the early church; but Grudem fails to notice that Luke, Mark, and Jude were also writers of Scripture and they were not part of the original apostolic band (neither was Paul). I do not believe that the original purpose and intent of the word “apostle” as we have it in Ephesians 4:11 could be transliterated into “Scripture writer.” The word “apostle” literally means “one sent” in the Greek. So, I agree with Jack Deere’s view, as he expresses it in Surprised by the Power of the Spirit in pages 241ff, that the calling of an apostle has not ceased, and in fact has continued throughout the history of the church, and may actually account for the lives of the saints, and various evidences of miraculous gifts in church history (as with St. Patrick who was called “the Apostle of Ireland,” St. Columba “the Apostle to the Picts,” or St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, John Knox, George Fox, John Wesley, Charles Finney, William J. Seymour at the “Apostolic Faith Gospel Mission” where the Azusa Street Revival occurred and gave birth to the worldwide Pentecostal movement). What we have in these examples, I think, are what we have in Ephesians 4:11 in the word “apostles”: they were miraculously gifted missionaries and church founders, reformers, and revivalists, who began great revivals and spiritual movements. The whole history of evangelical revivalism, I believe, is seasoned with apostles (in of course, a much lesser sense of authority than the original twelve). It recent times, it might be appropriate to say that John Wimber and David Wilkerson were apostles.

Appendix C: “The Sufficiency of Scripture” states that no charismatic prophecy, whether written or verbal, should ever be considered on the same level of authority as the Bible (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). Unlike the Apocrypha, or The Book of Mormon, which has a subtitle that says it is Another Testament of Jesus Christ…an evangelical charismatic prophecy will always present visions as subject to the careful judgment and evaluation of the church, as the Bereans who searched the Scriptures to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). Bill Wiese’s 23 Minutes in Hell, Rebecca Springer’s Within Heaven’s Gates, and David Wilkerson’s The Vision all fall into this category. Niether Wiese, nor Springer, nor Wilkerson would have ever dared to suggest that these books of theirs be added to the Bible! And they would have only asked people to believe what they were capable of believing, so long as they felt it agreed with the Bible, and that the Holy Spirit bore witness in their hearts to some thing they mentioned in their books.

APPENDICES ADDED FOR 2000 EDITION

Some of my favorite parts of the book are in this section.

Appendix 1: “Prophecy and Prophets” is a great overview of the book in a short, concise manner; its a great chapter-long overview of Biblical prophecy and the history of Biblical prophecy.

Appendix 2 argues that the “word of wisdom” and “word of knowledge” are not miraculous gifts, but are more natural talents of the Holy Spirit for Bible teaching and theology (this view was also held by Aquinas, Augustine, and Bunyan). But I disagree; and so did some of the church fathers. In the history of the church, there was never any full agreement about the proper use of these words. Cyril, Ambrose, and Tertullian all seemed to think they were supernatural; so do Assemblies of God and Vineyard theologians generally. Its hard for me to see the “manifestations of the Spirit” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 as anything other than a physical, visible, demonstrable miraculous gift. The word “manifestation” literally means revelation. “The revelations of the Spirit” is another way to say it. Grudem contends, however, that “prophecy” is the only proper word to use in this list for an utterance of supernatural knowledge. For all practical purposes, though, I think it is hair-splitting to do away with the phrase “word of knowledge” when someone wants to prophesy or speak of a prophecy. It’s just part of the established Pentecostal and charismatic lingo; and so, I say we should continue to use it.

Appendix 3 has some pretty straightforward statements against cessationism which are good to have around.

Appendix 5 is a good summary of the whole book’s message and theme.

Appendix 6 argues that the “foundation of apostles and prophets” in Ephesians 2:20 should be “the foundation of the apostles who are also prophets” (the twelve apostles); thus there is no need for normal prophets to cease in their continuing function in the church.

Appendix 7 is an amazing, extremely valuable section: “Some Evidence for the Existence of the Gift of Prophecy at Various Points in the History of the Church” shows that some of the Puritan theologians actually held to a cautiously charismatic point of view like the CMA or the Vineyard (such as in Samuel Rutherford’s A Survey of the Spiritual Antichrist or Richard Baxter’s A Christian Directory or George Gillespie’s Treatise of Miscellany Questions or William Bridge’s “Scripture Light the Most Sure Light”), but he also mentions some reformers by name who were acknowledged by these godly theologians as Protestant saints who had sometimes experienced the gift of prophecy: George Wishart, John Knox, John Davidson, John Welsh (all mentioned in John Howie’s The Scots Worthies), and also John Huss, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and Charles Spurgeon. (“Lawless enthusiasts” or carnal, antinomian, charismatic pretenders are also marked out, such as Anne Hutchinson.) To the list of true prophets, I would also add George Fox, John Wesley, Charles Finney, William J. Seymour, Smith Wigglesworth, John Wimber (with reservation), and David Wilkerson. This list for the most part, I would say, along with Rutherford, that they were “holy and mortified preachers,” and also prophets.

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