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ABOUT  "CHRISTIAN"  MYSTICISM

 

Index of FAQ about "Christian" Mysticism

 

How is the Charismatic Movement Influence by “Christian” Mysticism?  /  Does Charismatic Doctrine De-Emphasize Preaching & the Bible?  /  Does Charismatic Doctrine Find Spiritual Insight Beyond Thought & Doctrine?  /  Does Charismatic Doctrine Accept Extra-Biblical Experiences as Revelations from God?

 

When discussing “Christian” mysticism, attention must be given to Charismatic mysticism. The three characteristics of “Christian” mysticism which we considered in an earlier article are inherent to the core doctrines of the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave movements. These are three distinct movements, as defined by Charles Peter Wagner,1 which share a common foundation. Within Pentecostalism, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices. For this reason, it is very difficult to speak of Pentecostalism in general terms. Nevertheless, the Charismatic and Third Wave movements have consistently proven themselves to strongly adhere to each of the three key characteristics of “Christian” mysticism. Once again, these characteristics are:

1) “Christian” mysticism emphasizes a direct personal experience with God.
2) “Christian” mysticism emphasizes finding spiritual insight beyond thought and doctrine.
3) “Christian” mysticism accepts extra-biblical dreams, visions, and insights as revelations from God.

The foundation of the Charismatic, and Third Wave movements is firmly rooted in these three characteristics of “Christian” mysticism. At its core, these movements are mystical. Their heritage, and their foundational doctrines and practices are rooted in mysticism. These are expounded upon further in Appendices B.1 and B.7, but at this point, we will simply review several quotations from influential leaders within these movements. Certainly, there are exceptional churches within the Charismatic and Third Wave movements. Nevertheless, in looking at them as a general whole, these quotes should be sufficient to reveal that several key aspects of their doctrine are firmly rooted in mysticism.

To begin with, Charismatic and Third Wave doctrine de-emphasizes preaching and the Bible. Steve Hill, co-founder and senior pastor of Heartland World Ministries Church who is best known for preaching the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida from 1995 to 2000, has said, “In these latter days preaching and simply teaching the word is no longer sufficient, the Spirit has to get involved, through signs and wonders due to much sin that abounds.”2 According to Steve Hill, preaching and teaching the Word of God is no longer sufficient. The Charismatic and Third Wave movements de-emphasize preaching and the Bible. In fact, during a “Praise the Lord” show on the Trinity Broadcast Network, Frederick Price3 declared, “Man has made God violate His own word. Have a ‘Rolls Royce’ Faith.”4 Likewise, John Kilpatrick, who is best known for his pastoral oversight of the Brownsville Revival, said, “Let me tell you something else about this revival. This move of God is not about preaching. … We’ve heard so many sermons and so much of the Word of God that we’ve grown fat, but there’s been no power and no anointing and no miracles. So, I just want to tell you, that’s why tonight I don’t feel bad about not coming up here and preaching a great sermon.”5 Rather than preaching and the Bible, the Charismatic and Third Wave movements emphasize a direct, personal, and subjective experience with God. Often, this is accomplished through dreams, visions, prophetic tongues, etc.

Furthermore, these movements fear sound doctrine and criticism. An example of this fear can be found in a Trinity Broadcasting “Spring Praise-a-thon,” during which Paul Crouch6 said:7

I think God’s given up on a lot of that old rotten Sanhedrin religious crowd, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. I think they’re damned and on their way to hell and I don’t think there’s any redemption for them. I say to hell with you! ... the heresy hunters that want to find a little mote of illegal doctrine in some Christian’s eye and pluck that little mote out of their eye when they’ve got the whole forest in their own lives and in their own eyes. I say to hell with you! Oh hallelujah. Get out of God’s way, quit blocking God’s bridges or God's gonna shoot you if I don’t! I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there. Don’t even call me. If you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten out somebody over here, if you want to criticize Ken Copeland for his preaching on faith, or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life! I don’t even want to talk to you or hear you. I don’t want to see your ugly face! Get out of my face in Jesus’ name.

The revelations and insights which are received while under the anointing of the Holy Spirit are considered by the Charismatic movement to be superior to sound doctrine. However, they are subjective experiences which cannot be well defended. As such, there is a fear of sound doctrine and criticism which can expose many of these revelations for what they truly are. Steve Hill once warned, “Don’t analyze this ‘move of God,’ and you had better receive it if you don’t want a stamp of disapproval from Jesus.”8 Likewise, Kenneth Copeland9 has said, “I don’t preach doctrine, I preach faith.”10

Additionally, the Charismatic and Third Wave movements emphasize direct personal experiences with God which are recognized through feelings, insight, and revelations and which occur when the brain is disengaged. In his book The Force of Faith, Kenneth Copeland writes, “Believers are not to be led by logic. We are not even to be led by good sense.”11 Similarly, John Kilpatrick declared, “Let (yourselves) go ... do not think about what you are doing ... just give yourselves completely to the Spirit.”12 Also Rodney Howard Browne, founder and pastor of The River in Tampa, Florida, head of Revival Ministries International, and best known for his role in the Holy Laughter Revival, has said, “You really cannot understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. It’s not a move of man, it’s a move of God. The mind is never going to understand what God’s doing. ... The only way you’re going to understand what God’s doing is with your heart.”13

Hopefully, as we look at these statements, verses are coming to our minds, such as Isaiah 1:18 where God says, “Come now, and let us reason together ...” Also, verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, and Galatians 5:16, and 22–23 which teach that we are not to surrender our minds but are instead called to maintain a spirit of self-control. Despite the fact that self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, these religious leaders repeatedly encourage believers to stop analyzing doctrines, statements, and events according to Scripture. They teach that believers should disengage their brains so that they can better receive God’s special revelation to them. For example, Paul Cain14 preached, “… I know some of you are going to disagree with this. Don’t you even stop to disagree. Revelation 12:5. If you disagree, just file it in ‘miscellaneous’ and check it out. And don’t bother with it; when we get to heaven we’ll check it out and you’ll find out I’m right …”15 Similarly, Jack Deere16 said, “But you know what? God is in the process of offending our minds in order to reveal our hearts. And I don’t know any place where it’s going to be 100% right. There’s going to be stumbling blocks in every ministry that the Holy Spirit is really responsible for.”17

Aside from the fact that this is absolute heresy, notice Jack Deere’s statement that God’s truth offends our minds. In other words, Jack Deere is teaching that we have to stop critically evaluating things before God can truly communicate with us. This belief is shared by many of the most influential leaders within the Charismatic and Third Wave movements. Rodney Howard Browne even went so far as to declare:18

You can’t have revival without stirring up the flesh. ... When revival comes you will see manifestations of these three things in meetings: (1) the Holy Spirit; (2) the flesh, and (3) the devil. But, I’d rather be in a church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything ... Don’t worry about it. And if a devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening!

Additionally, personal experiences are placed above the authority of Scripture. William Branham, an evangelist who is credited as having founded the post-World War II healing movement, once said, “Now, I’m just your brother, by the grace of God. But when the Angel of the Lord moves down, it becomes then a Voice of God to you ... But I am God’s Voice to you ... Now, see, I can say nothing in myself. But what He shows me.”19 William Branham mimicked Christ in John 14:10 and claimed to be a transmitter of divine revelation for the modern church. Similarly, Bill Hamon, who is best known for his involvement among the Kansas City Prophets, said, “Paul said no other foundation can any man lay. We are going to see great apostolic and prophetic insight that is going to really change a lot about the Church. We keep saying we won’t recognize the 21st century church. That means a lot of change is going to take place quickly. It won’t destroy the foundations, but it will put us in a proper design and proper pattern.”20

Essentially, Bill Hamon is teaching that the Apostles did not lay the correct foundation for the church. We have to correct the foundation that the Apostles laid. The only way to accomplish this is to go beyond Scripture in our pursuit of truth. This is echoed in Paul Cain’s statement, “God’s raising up a new standard, a new banner, if you will, that’s going to radically change the expression, the understanding of Christianity in our generation ... God has invited us to have a role in establishing a new order of Christianity ... God is offering to this generation something He has never offered to any other generation ... beware lest old order brethren rob you and steal this hope from you.”21

If we understand the history of the Charismatic and Third Wave movements, then it should not surprise us to learn that many of its foundational elements are rooted in mysticism. These movements have always emphasized the mystical. If we trace their history back far enough, we learn that they are rooted, in part, in the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of Theosis. This is the teaching that man can be progressively sanctified even unto the point of becoming perfected deity—only without God’s divine essence, or uncausedness.22 We also discover that they are rooted in Montanism. Several key elements of Charismatic and Third Wave doctrine were first practiced and preached by Montanus. In many ways, Montanus can be considered the true founding father of these movements.

We do not have space to fully examine Montanus at this time, but he was rejected by the early church, and the Council at Constantinople decreed that Montanism was tantamount to paganism.23 Nevertheless, Charles Wesley described Montanists as “real Scriptural Christians” and Montanus as “one of the best men then upon the earth.”24 This is important because John and Charles Wesley laid the foundation that would eventually morph into Pentecostalism, and ultimately into the Charismatic and the Third Wave movements. (For a fuller consideration of Montanus, see Appendix B.1.)

A careful examination of the Charismatic and Third Wave movements reveals that their core doctrines cannot be divorced from mysticism. Theirs is a theology which was born out of the greatest of intentions but which has succumbed to the faulty promises of “Christian” mysticism.

 


1. “There is no question that a new and exciting era has come upon Christianity in the twentieth century. It started with the Pentecostal movement at the beginning of the century, a movement which continues to multiply under God’s blessing. It was joined by the Charismatic movement soon after mid-century. And now in these latter decades the Spirit is moving in what some of us like to call the third wave where we are seeing the miraculous works of God operating as they have been in the other movements in churches which have not been nor intend to be either Pentecostal or charismatic.”
(Charles Peter Wagner, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today (Vida Publishers, 1986), Source: Apologetics Index, “Third Wave.”)
2. Robert Gray, “What We Saw,” Dec. 14, 1996, Source: “Steve Hill.”
3. Frederick Price is the founder and senior pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center in Inglewood, California. He also founded Fellowship International Christian Word of Faith Ministries.
4. Frederick Price, “Praise the Lord,” Trinity Broadcasting Network, Sept. 21, 1990, Source: “Frederick K C Price.”
5. Costella, “The Brownsville/Pensacola Outpouring.”
6. Paul and Janice Crouch together with Jim and Tammy Bakker co-founded Trinity Broadcasting Systems in 1973. The Bakkers left in 1975 to begin The Praise The Lord Club. Eventually, Trinity Broadcasting Systems was renamed and became the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
7. Paul Crouch, “Praise-a-thon,” Trinity Broadcasting Network, April 2, 1991, Source: Deception, “Links to Audio Files.”
8. “Neal and Darlenn H visit to Brownsville AOG.,” Feb. 19, 1997, Source: “Steve Hill.”
9. Kenneth Copeland is the founder of Eagle Mountain International Church which is also known as Kenneth Copeland Ministries. He served as a member of the Oral Roberts University Board of Regents until 2008. He also hosts the daily television program Believer’s Voice of Victory.
10. Kenneth Copeland, “Copeland, _Following the Faith of Abraham I, side 2,” Source: Hanegraaff, “What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement?” 16.
11. Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Faith, 7, Source: “‘By Your Words’.”
12. Jimmy Robbins, “Revival … Or Satanic Counterfeit?” 1996, Source: Interactive Bible, “Pentecostalism.”
13. Julia Duin, “An Evening with Rodney Howard-Browne,” Christian Research Journal 17, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 43, Source: Duin, “An Evening with Rodney Howard-Browne.”
14. Beginning his ministry at the age of eighteen, Paul Cain was the youngest minister in the movement known as the Voice of Healing Revival of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He is best known for his involvement with the Kansas City Prophets and later with John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement.
15. Paul Cain, Prophetic Power and Passion Conference at Christ Chapel in Florence, Alabama, August 1995, Source: “Paul Cain.”
16. Jack Deere was an associate professor of Old Testament at Dallas Seminary until he reversed his position on cessationism. Believing that he had experienced sign gifts of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of John Wimber, he joined the staff of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church in Anaheim, California. He eventually began his own ministry and founded Wellspring Church in North Richland Hills, Texas.
17. Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship Audiotape, November 20, 1994, Source: “Jack Deere.”
18. Rodney Howard-Browne, quoted in Weighed and Found Wanting: Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context, 162, Source: Burns, “Unholy Laughter.”
19. William Branham, “Footprints On The Sands Of Time,” 214, Source: “William Branham.”
20. Bill Hamon, http://imagint.com/bereans/prophesies/cinc-1999.htm, Source: Eldridge, “Bill Hamon.”
21. Paul Cain, “You Can Become the Word!” 1989, Vineyard Prophetic Conference, with comment from Sandy Simpson, 1997, Source: “Paul Cain.”
22. Wikipedia, “Theosis.”
23. MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 88.
24. Charles Wesley, Journal, III, 496 and The Works of Wesley VI, (New York, 1856) 556, Source: Interactive Bible, “We have the Holy Spirit.”

Works Cited

1. Apologetics Index. “Third Wave.” Last Updated July 22, 2009. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/581-third-wave.
2. Burns, Cathy. “Unholy Laughter.” Deception In The Church. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/laugh2.htm.
3. “‘By Your Words’ Quotes from Third Wave Leaders.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/quotes.html.
4. Costella, Matt. “The Brownsville/Pensacola Outpouring. Revival or Pandemonium?” Foundation Magazine, March–April 1997. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/FBCPENSA.HTM.
5. Duin, Julia. “An Evening with Rodney Howard-Browne.” Christian Research Institute, June 9, 2009. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.equip.org/articles/an-evening-with-rodney-howard-browne/.
6. Eldridge, Lori. “Bill Hamon: Head Wolf in the Sheep Pen.” February 21, 2000. Last Updated September 30, 2000. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/hamon.html.
7. “Frederick K C Price.” Accessed August 14, 2013. http://www.cephasministry.com/word_of_faith_fredrick_price.html.
8. Hanegraaff, Hendrik, and Erwin de Castro. “What’s Wrong with the Faith Movement? Part Two: The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland.” The Christian Research Journal (Spring, 1993): 16. 9. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/copelnd2.htm.
10. Interactive Bible, The. “Pentecostalism: The religion where you worship God with your mind in neutral!” Accessed March. 18, 2014. http://www.bible.ca/tongues-neutral-mind.htm.
11. Interactive Bible, The. “We have the Holy Spirit unlike those other dead churches.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.bible.ca/tongues-dead-churches.htm.
12. “Jack Deere.” Accessed August 14, 2013. http://www.cephasministry.com/jack_deere.html.
13. “Links to Audio Files.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/audio.html.
14. MacArthur, John. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992.
15. “Paul Cain.” Accessed August 14, 2013. http://www.cephasministry.com/paul_cain.html.
16. “Steve Hill.” Accessed August 14, 2013. http://www.cephasministry.com/steve_hill.html.
17. Wikipedia. “Theosis (Eastern Orthodox theology).” Last Updated February 13, 2014. Accessed March 18, 2014. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_(Eastern_Orthodox_theology)(Eastern_Orthodox_theology).
18. “William Branham.” Accessed August 14, 2013. http://www.cephasministry.com/william_branham.html.

 

The above comes from our book Sinister Spirit. Check out this book to see how "Christian" mysticism is linked to the spirit of antichrist.

 

Author: Timothy Zebell, 2014