“For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as the apostles of Christ. And no marvel! Even Satan himself disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as the ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds” (2 Cor 11:13-15 NRSV).
I was saved in 1969, aged just 21 years, when a colleague where I was employed told me about Jesus. In my new life as a Christian, I was totally new to the Christian world, having lived only as an unbeliever in an unbelieving world up to this time. It was only a matter of a few weeks in this new, Christian way of life, before I encountered my first Pentecostal Christian. His name was Peter, a young man my own age, and I met him at our Anglican church after the worship service. I remember greeting him with the usual “How are you?” to which he replied “Praising the Lord, brother, praising the Lord!” He was also sporting a black eye, and he told me that he had been in the pub the night before, witnessing to the drinkers. One of them had punched him in the face; hence, his shiner. But he was rejoicing because he had been “punched for Jesus”; and as he told me this, he had an angelic look on his face which, to me, was rather comical, despite the fact that he was serious. I also admired him for his courage in facing a pub full of drunken Aussie beer swillers.
At that time (the 1970s), the churches were still the same as they had always been, but there was a growing swell of agitation from many quarters to modernise the Church. The Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church began a revision of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Charismatic Renewal was also under way; there was even a Charismatic Healing Service held every week in the Anglican cathedral which was headed by its canon, a Charismatic Christian named Jim Glennon. And the mainstream denominations were riddled with liberals and Freemasons.
The difference between Charismatic and Pentecostal, I was later told, was that while they were both distinguished by having experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostals were those Christians who had separated from the mainstream denominations, with a large part of their focus on healing; whereas, the Charismatics’ agenda was to remain in their churches and denominations so that they could bring about change from within. However, that difference doesn’t seem to exist anymore as the Charismatics’ strategy has been so successful that nearly the whole of evangelicalism has been influenced both in theology and worship; so the two terms are now probably used interchangeably.
I don’t think anybody outside the Charismatic movement at that time would have dreamt how influential it would become. But the timing was perfect because people were getting restless due to the tired old worship services, the sameness and repetitiveness of the liturgy, the same old hymns, and the general “deadness” of church worship, preaching, and church life generally, as many saw the situation. “Charismania” quickly permeated the whole church. As the hippy drug culture spread amongst the youth, the “Jesus Movement”, itself a Charismatic movement, also spread, countering the drug culture, becoming a sub-culture itself, and bringing huge numbers of young people into salvation and the churches. But it wasn’t limited to youth, for many adults were seeking and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, their lives being radically changed as they experienced once again the joy of salvation and freedom in worship; or, in other instances unconverted members of liberal and Freemason controlled churches were brought under the sound of the gospel and were born again by the Holy Spirit.
The numbers of Charismatics within mainstream churches grew rapidly, and they started gathering together as groups of Christians having in common the experience of the baptism of the Spirit, worshipping together on Sunday afternoons in rented buildings. These meetings offered excitement, joy, and passion, in a setting where they could exercise their new-found ability to speak in tongues, sing in the Spirit, dance in worship, and other manifestations of the Spirit.
There also appeared a large body of new songs to sing in worship, using the words of the King James Bible set to catchy tunes entitled “Scripture in Song”; and Christians from traditional churches were moving en masse to these Charismatic groups to be baptized in the Spirit and share in the joy and freedom of worship. Even the mainstream churches started using their songs. This was the scene in Sydney where I lived, but the same thing seemed to be happening throughout Western Christianity. Not only had the Charismatics produced “Scripture in Song”, they also produced the “Logos International Study Bible” emphasising the Holy Spirit, published by a Pentecostal publisher called Logos, to give biblical credence to their practices. The appearance of this bible shocked and offended me because it drew attention away from Jesus and onto the Holy Spirit; whereas the role of the Holy Spirit was to draw people to Jesus.
The movement seemed harmless to most people at the time, but over the next decade or two, many of the Sunday afternoon worship groups joined traditional Pentecostal denominations, such as Assemblies of God, while others formed their own denominations or remained as independent churches. Today, many of these independent church groups which attach themselves to the larger Pentecostal denominations or groups change their allegiance and attachment frequently; and even in the country town where I live, it’s hard to keep up with them. The local telephone directory, although updated each year, is often out of date because of the frequent changes of these small Charismatic churches which constantly change their name and allegiance, attaching themselves to Assemblies of God to Christian City Church to Christian Outreach Centre, etc. Other Charismatic churches, mushroom-like, seem to appear overnight, and within a few months they’ve disappeared.
Beware of Greeks bearing Gifts
But wiser Christians saw the movement as a kind of Trojan horse in whose belly were hidden Satan’s forces, ready to destroy the Church and the Gospel once the horse had been brought safely behind the protective walls of the Church. It was the planting of the tares among the wheat, deceiving unsuspecting Christians (Matt 13:24-30). And indeed this is what happened; and now Satan is so cocky that his “special forces commandos”, the televangelists, have brought havoc into the churches with their unbiblical healing meetings and false teaching that he barely even bothers to disguise them. At the same time they ruthlessly fleece the people of every cent, and spread deceitful doctrines promising them health and wealth, assure them that the devil is under their feet, and that all they have to do is speak a word in faith and they can have whatever they want.
These wolves are so brazen that they no longer even bother to don their sheep’s clothing. Instead, their cloven feet parade up and down the prayer lines as their devoted and gullible followers wait upon them for a touch of the Holy Spirit. However, the spirit which they transfer is an unclean spirit, a devil, for how could it be any other way? “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can” (Job 14:4 NRSV).
The spirit which energises these televangelists is not the Holy Spirit but rather an evil spirit, and often, when the televangelist lays hands on the victim to impart spiritual power, the victim is overtaken by a hostile spiritual entity which often manifests itself violently and noisily. I’ve seen Heidi Baker on YouTube “praying” for a young man; he roared when she laid hands on him and he fell to the ground, convulsing, roaring, screaming – it was frightening, a scene from hell! But of course, when the source of the televangelists’ power is from hell, everything they do will be an expression of hell. Benny Hinn, for example, brazenly admits he lies on the grave of Kathryn Kuhlman for some kind of connection with her spirit; this in defiance of God’s command against necromancy. Heidi Baker is shown on YouTube “drunk in the spirit”, collapsing, slurring, limp, trying to get off up from the floor but continually falling and laughing – this is presented as something to be desired but it is in reality occult powers controlling her, and demonstrates that she is nothing but a medium. Todd Bentley’s meeting are manifestly occult and witchcraft and are very frightening; and his arrogance is abounding.
And the fruit of their connection with hell can be seen in the lives of many of them, which are characterised by the most obvious and disgusting works of the flesh – embezzlement of church finances, sexual immorality, adultery, divorce and re-marriage, grossly lavish lifestyles, and so on. They use the bible to winkle every cent they can out of their gullible supporters and dazzle them with visions of wealth of their own. They’re much akin to the medieval popes in their avarice, cunning, greed, lust for power, lust for sex, extravagance, arrogance, pride, vanity, and pomposity. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about it all is that people – supposed Christians – believe them, follow them, adore them, and give them their money. And author Roberts Liardon has the audacity to title them “God’s Generals”!
“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning, or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:1-2 NRSV).