07 August 2013

Well, I guess we do have to go over this again ...

by Frank Turk

I have three books I want to review and/or recommend to you before they go cold on the warehouse shelves of Amazon.com, but the Spirit told me ...

Listen: will anyone take that as a legitimate excuse for responding to the ample and rather vigorous criticism of the forth-coming "Strange Fire" conference and Grace Community Church?

"The Spirit Told Me"?

Will that be good enough to keep anyone from responding to anything I write here -- for fear of grieving the Spirit or some such thing?  If that's not a blank cheque for me to do something as incidental as replying to the current wave of over-reactions to criticisms of Charismaticism and under-reactions to the real spiritual plague going on globally thanks to charismatic hucksters who are becoming lavishly-wealthy on the backs of the poorest of the poor (and also the poor people in America), then that's certainly no excuse to do something more spiritually-sophisticated.

For example, claiming the Spirit told me to predict a natural disaster and then when the disaster failed to come to pass writing it off as a little miss, as if false prophecy and partial preterism were the same thing.  If someone can do that because the Spirit told him, why can't the Spirit have told me that criticism of the MacArthur conference is a bad idea, and overwrought, and plays like a turntable that can't quite get to 45 RPMs?

Or for example, claiming the Spirit told me that I will have a triple-favor anointing, and that I have 7 prophetic promises -- when in fact I am a double-talking shyster completely full of idiotic platitudes.  If that can run under the cover of what the Spirit told me, why exactly can't I point out that, by a long shot, the kind of "christianity" which vomits out spiritual flim-flam sauce to take money from people does 10,000 times more damage to the reputation of the church when it is left uncriticized and undebunked?  Why can't the Spirit have told me that?

Or for example, maybe the Spirit told me to wear a hoodie and a Mickey T and claim that I see -- that is, I can watch them via some sort of Spirit-filled TiVo -- the sins of other people.  Especially: their sexual sins.

Right? If I can get away with that sort of thing because the Spirit told me, and nobody will question or criticize that sort of thing because they fear to grieve the Spirit, why will they dedicate their Q2 and Q3 to reproaching the folks at Grace Community Church for actually reading the words the Spirit wrote and proclaiming them against the excesses of so-called "Spirit-filled" people who have more in common with Simon Magus than with Simon bar-Jonah?


Then let's think more clearly about this than deciding that every person who claims to be a tool of the actual, personal Spirit of God who is not cowering over the experience since they have just been in the presence of the perfect, just, and infinitely-holy Creator and Sustainer of all things must be on to something.  Let's begin immediately to represent the laughably-blasphemous as something to be tossed out of the company of good faith rather than something which just needs a little while longer to cook up something really astonishing.  What they are really cooking up is something that is probably better called "just desserts" rather than the "fruit of the Spirit."


Tom Chantry said...

It sort of reminds you why Moses told the people how to distinguish between a false and a true prophet. Because, if you can't then anyone is a prophet. So if the continuationists aren't going to follow Deuteronomy 18:20-22, then they need to replace it, or anyone - EVEN FRANK TURK(!) - might be a prophet.

On another note, I love how when you come into a comment thread before any comments have posted, Blogger tells you that it's displaying comments 1-0 of 0. #Math

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I know I'm gonna sound like a slacker, but how much of the Benny Hinn video are we required to watch? All 28 minutes? I started watching it, but at about 1:24 my device stopped playing and started rebuffering. I'm not saying it was the Holy Spirit's doing, but I just thought I'd ask.

Robert said...

It is amazing to me that people are already speaking out against the conference without having heard a single message. Wouldn't it make more sense to actually hear what the speakers have to say and then give a point by point response? I mean, that is how I have seen the Holy Spirit act in the responses that Paul wrote to the churches in the Bible. Of course, I guess some people think that they don't need to read and follow the Bible in order to be filled with the Spirit...and that is truly scary.

FX Turk said...


When you have DaGifts, "discernment" is never having to hear the other side.

FX Turk said...

BTW, DJP has a fantastic new #CharismaticismIn5Words which ought to go live sometime today, and when it does, I honestly think thre's nothing left to say on this subject until the other side does some very serious and sober re-assessment of their own closet full of dry bones.

James Scott Bell said...

The worst offense of all may very well be that Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

LanternBright said...

I honestly would've thought less of you if you hadn't posted a graphic of The Spirit comic, Frank. Well-played, sir.

FX Turk said...

The hard part, really, was picking the right one.

FX Turk said...

The hard part, really, was picking the right one.

Rob said...

Nice closing comic zinger!

DJP said...

Really terrific post.

Here is the hashtag to which Frank alludes.

And here, I think, is my specific unveiling-Tweet (one of several, in sequence).

Chris H said...

Know what's awesome about Wednesdays? - Frank Turk posts stuff like this.

Thank you Frank, for eschewing subtlety in favour of precision and truth.

FX Turk said...

Note for the masses:

I have canned a lot of comments in moderation for the sake of moderation. I've said plenty here which you are allowed to agree with or disagree with, but because someone will hold Dan and I accountable for your comments because we let them through the moderation filter, keep your opinions limited to the scope of this post, which is: what do we say to someone who says, "The Spirit told me," or some cognate of that.

Dave Ulrick said...

As an ex-charismatic, I think I might understand the reluctance to criticize anyone's claim to a word from the Spirit and the zeal to criticize anyone who would venture to make such criticism.

Back in the day (the mid to late 80's), I had what I thought to be one or two personal words from God in which I'd put a lot of stock, but I constantly found myself to be assailed by inner doubts that I attributed to an attack from Satan, not an uncommon belief in my charismatic circles. If someone came along who had the audacity to raise the smallest question about my "words from God", I took this is as a frontal attack from the Devil himself, so I'd take off my Clark Kent glasses and go into super-zealous spiritual warfare mode until the doubts and my detractor receded.

Given the "spiritual warfare" I continually fought in defense of my personal spiritual experiences, I tended to be extra-careful to not call into question the spiritual experiences of others unless they were blatantly in contradiction of Scripture. To my thinking, if you could find just one proof text to back up your experience, who was I to judge: maybe God was in fact speaking to you just as he was speaking to me.

However, in due time God saw fit to graciously wean me off all extra-Biblical revelation in favor of Scripture alone. I now see my former inner doubts as being quite the opposite of an attack from the devil. When a dream, vision, or prophecy cannot be conclusively demonstrated to be 100% authoritative and inerrant, it is perfectly reasonable to have doubts about it and raise questions about it. Only words that are proven to be God-breathed ought to be above criticism!

Frank, if your charismatic commenters struggle with anything like the "spiritual warfare" I formerly experienced, it is 100% understandable that they will react as they do to criticism such as the forthcoming Strange Fire conference. They see it as an attack from Satan that they must resist. If they had any certainty that their experiences were as authoritative as Scripture, they'd be able to rest in that knowledge and respond patiently and kindly to their critics (much like the Calvinists of my acquaintance deal with criticisms of the doctrines of grace), but when one's source of inspiration is errant and untrustworthy you'll see exactly the kind of behavior you've observed.

FX Turk said...

I just had a brilliant idea, thanks to the underpaid and over-worked team of anonymous staff members here at TeamPyro.

If the readers of this blog want to help the charismatic brothers understand the scope of our complaint, maybe 3 examples of people who wear out their welcome but can't get disowned by the charismatic camp isn't enough. Maybe, factually, the "serious" Charismatics don't get out much.

Maybe they have never heard of guys who claim to be "master prophets".

Here's what I think: we all "know" Benny Hinn and Mark Driscoll stink like old fish. What if we assembled here a veritable laundry list of people (because God knows this field is not hardly only men) and links to their ring in this circus so that there's no doubt that what we mean by these complaints is not "you have two or three clowns you should be more serious about correcting."

I welcome all links to all false prophets and all the phony spiritists who get rich preaching prosperity instead of Christ.

Go for that. I'll shut the comments down at 200 out of pity for the other side.

Kerry James Allen said...

Sweet! The Turk version of 2 Corinthians 13:1.

"In the mouth of two or three (hundred) witnesses shall every word be established."

"O blessed Jesus, it is the same still, thou wilt not dazzle or amuse, and therefore men prefer any charlatan to thee." CHS

Kerry James Allen said...

I always found Reverend Ike, he of "You can't lose with the stuff I use!" to be one of the bigger charlatans, and still in business now that his son (Bishops all) runs things after Ike's death in 2009.

This site even has "Thinkonomics" and "God's Own Personal Phone Number."



LanternBright said...


Here's Bill Johnson teaching that God's indisputable will for all believers is to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, and cleanse lepers."


Here's Todd Bentley talking about God providing "gold tooth miracles" (no, really) as a prophetic sign confirming one of his messages:


Here's Rick Joyner claiming that he prophetically foresaw (apparently among other things): the fall of the Iron Curtain, the militarization of the US-Mexico burden; the coming housing crisis, etc. (He also says he's now been given "a timeline about some things"):


Here's Mike Bickle talking about a vision that God showed him of tanks rolling across America and another one of an angel from September 2005, supposedly calling people to "the House of Prayer" (aka IHoP):


Here's a lady (whose name apparently really IS "Barbie Breathitt") giving us all a great lesson on how to interpret dreams: since in Isaiah 11 there are seven angels of God and also seven colors of the rainbow, then naturally the primary colors that appear in your dreams are laden with enormous significance!


Unknown said...

I think what astounds me more than anything is how so many people put their experiences above scripture. The biblical illiteracy among professing Christians provides the warm,damp soil from which this nonsense grows. Our greatest threat is not external,abortion, gay marriage, etc. It has been and always will be that "from among ourselves men will arise and distort the truth." The Strange Fire conference is much needed and the fact that so many from the Charismatic camp are attacking it shows just how much.

So, from an ex-charismatic, God bless and soldier on!

Carl Daniel said...

False teacher/false prophet TD Jakes - God can't do nothin if you don't speak it.

Carl Daniel said...

Creflo Dollar saying that you you have to pay for blessings, and he mocks prayer.
False teacher-http://youtu.be/YSqi2LCJ7iU

Chris H said...

I dunno, Frank... will 200 be enough? This is rather like shooting fish in a barrel.

Also, in terms of fairness, are you going to open it up to the other side who can provide barrels of examples of their people coming through?

For me, I start with the Champ - Peter Popoff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaFCGx3SIFs

One of Hinn's friends: http://www.prophetmanasseh.com/

LanternBright said...

....and, now I'm back from lunch, here are a few more to keep the ball rolling on this excellent task that Brother Turk has provided us...

Here's Patricia King telling us how we can "name it and claim it" (although of course she calls it "decreeing"):


Here's Peter Gammons teaching us that God wasn't really sovereign over Job's condition, but just didn't have "the legal right" to oppose what Satan had purposed to do to him:


Here's John Wimber teaching that EVERY believer has COMPLETE access to EVERY ONE of the spiritual gifts, but must first pass through "an initiation experience" in order to fully realize them:


Here's C. Peter Wagner teaching (and Jack Hayford AGREEING!) about the "biblical" practice of "spiritual mapping" and that the economic woes of Japan were a result of the emperor having sex with a demon:


Here's John Kilpatrick (of the so-called Brownsville Revival, no less) giving a "prophecy" in January 2012 about more attacks like 9/11 that were supposed to happen "in the days and months ahead" (...in 2012):


Michael T. said...

I have to agree with Men. Also , as an ex-charismatic, the problem with the movement is that people just don't know their bibles. The pastor I had for over twenty years did not come anywhere near expositing the word. He had a few passages he went back to regularly depending on if the holy spirit had given him indigestion or heart burn that week. They just don't preach the bible in context, so nobody in the church knows it in context. Of course when you read them 1 Corinthians 12,13, and 14 they decide you need to stop reading the bible and pray. "The holy spirit will lead you." Funny thing is my church was called the Open Bible Church. Guess not.

FX Turk said...

----- PAY ATTENTION -----
OK: let's be careful with one factoid here, which is biblical literacy. Consistently, when Christians are surveyed to gauge their spiritual literacy, one group almost always ends up on top in terms of most aggregately literate: the Assemblies of God.

I'd link to said surveys, but the Spirit told me not to. I'll leave it to you to decide if I mean "the holy third person of the Trinity," or "the retro comic hero who was an antihero before that was awesome."
----- end message -----

Robert said...

Rod Parsley - prayer cloth and supernatural power of 10 (this is wosre than his antics on stage in church):


Peter Popoff selling miracle spring water:


Fred Price's rebuttal to a 20/20 story on his church where he says he can quote "Scripture after Scripture after Scripture where it says that God wants us to materially propser (Hmmm like Jeremiah 29:11, which is for Israel after their exile?)":


Joseph Prince:


Paula White & Friends:


Robert said...

I'll say one thing that I am anxious to hear expounded at this conference is what exactly the ministry of the Holy Spirit entails. Of course, I guess that takes one back to biblical literacy because that is where God speaks to us and informs us what the ministry of the Spirit entails.

FX Turk said...

Let me tell you - lots of these people seem to be transparent con-men to me, but in the list we have so far, I simply cannot imagine how anybody with a basic comprehension of English and or any idea that Jesus is a real person does not find Joseph Prince utterly and completely unsavory.

I really can't watch more than a few second of his schtick. He's intellectually and spiritually offensive.

Robert said...


I can't agree with you more...I didn't make it throught the shole clip myself. It was quite amazing to see such a manifestation of what I had just read in Francis Schaeffer's writings about linguistic analysis how it all just end up being semantics with using religious words without any real meaning.

Michael T. said...

I'm too afraid to assume you're being sarcastic....
My association was closely aligned with the AG as they call it and I can tell you while some do know their bible these are the same people, who in their by-laws, require that all their ministers have the baptism of the holy spirit as evidenced by the speaking of tongues. So, some may study the bible and may be "surveyed” to be very "literate" they wholesale ignore large passages of the bible to fit their tradition/beliefs i.e. female pastors, gibberish in place of actual languages, and fortune telling in lieu of prophecy (preaching of the word).Now, is biblical illiteracy a problem Christendom wide? Of course it is. But, this movement actually has songs that refer to not needing lots of books (bible, commentaries, etc.) because they have the power of God. Again, forgive me if you were being sarcastic. I didn't want to offend any members of the AG and their surveys.

donsands said...

You are so incredible with your lingo, and I am quite ignorant. I appreciate you Cent.

How about these two guys I bumped into, can I share their wisdom? Is it relevant to this blog post?


FX Turk said...

I'll admit that I cannot find the link to that study, but I am deeply convicted that it is in my permanent memory hole because when I read that, it seemed utterly incongruous.

I'll find it and post a link, and any necessary corrections.

FX Turk said...

And: I appreciate the sense that maybe I was kidding. I totally get that - I can't believe I am not.

FX Turk said...

This survey looks like the one I remember, but it's too general. It doesn't go into denominational breakdown:


Stephen said...

Frank this may be similar to what you're looking for, but it says Baptists and Presbies scored the highest, with Pentecostals hanging around the bottom with Catholics and other main-liners (Figure 3 is the money chart): http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/bible_knowledge_denominations.html

Tim Bushong said...

I have to wonder how many of these people actually think that they're proclaiming God's Word and how many are bana fide charlatans.

I heard from one fella that the 1st-generation folks KNEW what they were saying was false, but now it's so endemic as to be really believed.

And yes--I'm another ex-charismatic.

trogdor said...

Sorry I can't find a link to it by itself, but in this episode a Patricia King special is, well, special. The segment starts at about 34 minutes and goes to 1:07.

Listen as Patricia describes her latest trip to heaven, her tour of Jesus' office (no, really), and how Jesus heaps praise on her and a slew of false prophets/teachers. Compare to descriptions from people who actually saw heaven. Conclude.

trogdor said...

Have you ever listened to someone who is zealously pro-abortion? They cannot allow that even a single abortion should be regulated or illegal. They vehemently fight to allow all abortion in all forms, no matter how extreme. They will not admit that a line should be drawn, because if they do, they accept that *some* abortions are immoral. And that will necessarily lead to questioning where exactly the line should be drawn, and potentially expose the immorality of the entire venture.

As I read this post, I can't help but see the same mindset in charismatic enablers. They simply will not say that the Spirit really didn't say, or that something is not really a move of the Spirit, except *maybe* in hindsight after gross immorality is exposed (and even then, usually condemning the minister, not the 'revival'). Why? How can they see this stuff going on and say nothing?

Because if they say in the moment that something is not of the Spirit, that admits that there must be a way to determine it, a test of some sort. And that leads to questions - what exactly is the test, and do our 'works of the Spirit' pass?

Pointing a finger at the charlatans invites examination of their own acts. And they really don't want that.

Unknown said...

Some of you seem to have the idea that if you're in a charismatic group you can't criticise anything the Spirit is supposed to have said.

But that's not really true. Most of the charismatics I know expect to weigh and validate what is said.

Could you be a bit more discerning with your criticism, please?

FX Turk said...


I'm having a hard time expressing myself civilly to you comment because I think it's either grossly naive or wildly cynical.

Here are three reasons why we know for certain that the statement "Most of the charismatics ... expect to weigh and validate what is said" is untrue:

1. It is an undeniable fact that the gross majority -- way north of 75% -- of all "charismatics" take all signs and wonders at face value, and allow charletans like Todd Bentley and Pain Cain not just a first chance, but an unlimited number of chances when they have never repented and never once produced an actual sign or wonder. Charismaticism is a farce because the charletans are the rule, not the exception.

2. The phrase "heresy hunter" was born the Charismatic movement to denote someone who does, in fact, weigh and validate (and when someone is found wanting: complain and rebuke), and it is a term of disrepute, not a term referring to good work. It is disreputable in those circle to be a person testing the spirits.

3. There's no effort at all in these circles to clean up their act, and to get the ship facing even toward the right pole, let alone true north. Compare that to the SBC which, while it may still have a strong thread of anti-Calvinism in it, turned the denomination around from being post-liberal and doctrinally corrupt to a denomination full of seminaries with high views of Scripture and a serious and sober view of history. There's no long-term effort in Charismatic circle to expunge the frauds and the clowns.

If you respond to this comment, I'll post it so you may have the last word.

Kerry James Allen said...

Duncan, I'm just wondering if you and the people you are referring to in the matter of "Spirit led" tongues follow 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 and

1. Ask if an interpreter is present first, and if not, silence is the rule.
2. Limit it to, as Paul said, "at most three."
3. Restrict it to men only as 1 Corinthians 14:35.

I could say more about the issue or am I just quenching and grieving the Spirit here as I follow His Word?

Unknown said...


Thank you for making the effort to respond civilly.

You seem most interested in big leaders; whereas I am interested my church and those I visit / know of.
I am sure you would still criticise my congregation’s practices; and that I would support ministries you oppose. But I still think there’s a difference. It’s a bit like judging the Southern Baptists based on TV evangelists (the common view in 1980s England).

I’m not familiar with Pain Cain and I haven’t been paying much attention to Todd Bentley since he ahem left his wife. Whilst I might forgive him 490 times, I have not checked to see if he’s truly repentant. The adultery in itself does not invalidate his ministry, because sadly we are all vulnerable to that; especially leaders. But I was pretty annoyed that his leadership team sounded so keen to keep the show on the road without taking the problems seriously enough. So you probably have a good point in that case (but maybe I am being unfair as I haven’t also checked out Todd’s view).

It’s true that we considered flying out to see what Todd Bentley was doing, because it sounded similar to movements we had supported. But we were cautious because a Baptist pastor I respect had warned strongly against him. He is not a charismatic but nor does he criticise ahem quite so freely as you seem to. Which makes it so much easier for me to listen! This also perhaps brings us onto the distinction between a heresy hunter and someone who weighs and validates?

I _think_ that was a time when our own (charismatic) leaders were also suspicious. Charismatic church leaders absolutely have to be able to weigh, validate and rebuke. How long do you think it takes for, say, a boy to decide that God has told him to marry a girl who isn’t interested; and how long do you think a church leader would last if he fell for that one? (Hmmm – maybe it’s best you don’t answer that question. A stock response is, ‘Odd that he hasn’t said anything to me’. Talking to mature believers also helps.) In some ways this particular issue may be more of a problem outside of charismatic circles. Because Christians tend to forget that they don’t believe in prophecy when they want guidance on something important like who to marry or which job to take. It helps if you’ve practiced on something smaller first. (Although I’ve overdone that point a bit, as obviously you can and presumably do use the bible and take counsel and so on.)

Further I do think there is a serious effort to keep the ship going in the right direction. For example I have seen: Increased emphasis on team leadership rather than depending on a single big leader (I am thinking locally, but the same trend applies nationally here in the UK). Increasing invitations to people from other groups / denominations who don’t necessarily share the same viewpoint. Leaders saying that God had moved on and people needed to be careful not to carry on indulging in what had been a move of the Spirit. Encouraging people to move to different churches instead of holding onto them possessively. Continuing emphasis that prophecy must be biblical.

I will have a think though about whether you’re right that we’re too reluctant to challenge famous leaders. I think it’s just that we don’t pay as much attention to them as we used to; and there’s more of a disparate input. (And a given that we do accept some practices that you reject.)

This is a bit long to insist upon your generous offer of final response, isn’t it?


FX Turk said...

Duncan -- thanks for your response. In the future, I'm not typing any more comments from my Android Paid until its spell checker stops turning my horrific typing in far-worse auto-correct punchlines. "Pain Cain" ought to be "Paul Cain," for reference.

Yes, I think you have a really decent point -- especially in directing your complaint to me, the guy responsible at this blog for delivering (often) the top-rope suplex on people for not being faithful to their local church. For my part, I hope your local church is a decent one where the fruit of the spirit are far more evident than the so-called gifts of the spirit.

But that said: I think you're getting into a different conversation than you think you are getting into. Look at the context of my posts on this subject: they are not against any local church in particular. They are toward those (big name voices) criticizing Dr. MacArthur for having a conference about the rampant excesses of the Charismatic movement -- excesses which those voices are eerily silent toward. Excesses those voices are unable to confront before, for example, another so-called prophet is actually bilking gullible sheep and committing adultery, fornication, homosexuality or all of the above.

Lastly, as you answer, I credit your local elders for being at least pragmatic enough to see that the spirit-led life listening to what "God told me" is a perpetual car-wreck. Problematically, the huge tide of Charismaticism is not in that direction. When Mark Driscoll catches no flack for saying publicly that God gives him visions which are a mix of the worst of Cinemax and ABC after-school specials, and that's given a pass as an act of the "Holy Spirit," someone needs to wave the red flag.

I congratulate you for belonging to a church with a conscience and a bit of human good sense. Here's the rest of the movement. Think about it.

Unknown said...

Well that's more movement than I expected, Frank. Even though we're still some distance apart, I think I should take that as a blessing. :) So I'm going to respond to Kerry privately and otherwise quit while I'm ahead.

God bless you too. Duncan