For many years Pentecostalism was a sideline within Protestant Christianity, regarded as an aberration by many Christians; part of the “lunatic fringe”, as some saw it. Indeed, “G. Campbell Morgan referred to pentecostals as ‘the last vomit of Satan’, while R. A. Torrey accused them of being ‘founded by a sodomite’” (White, J, 1992, p. 41). And it is still so regarded by many Evangelical Christians, with any number of books written against the movement by well-known and popular authors. But ironically, Pentecostalism’s worst enemies are those within its own walls; men and women who not only do not display the fruit of the Spirit but exemplify the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-23). These frauds are the face of Pentecostalism and its leading and most public figures. They are the televangelists who live like kings and queens in their huge palaces, ruthlessly fleecing their devoted and gullible followers of their hard-earned money to feed their lust for earthly possessions and power.
Peddlers of God’s Word
Many men and women televangelists have made themselves rich at the expense of the faithful Christians who follow them and believe their teaching. Promising healing and wealth, they brazenly lie to their audiences that if they will be faithful and sow a seed of faith in the form of a cash donation to them, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out his blessing on them. Their personal wealth has become so great that they can and do build extravagant homes for themselves, dress in the most expensive clothes, own their own personal jet airplanes, and spend fortunes on themselves to indulge their every fancy; and they can build huge church buildings on huge properties to accommodate huge congregations.
In this vein, the pastor in a local Pentecostal church near where I lived told his congregation they should “wear their wealth” so that everybody could see the blessing of God on them. A well-known televangelist, John Avanzini, spoke contemptuously of poor (i.e. non-wealthy) pastors, and said that he wouldn’t even talk to such a pastor (DVD – “The Blind and the Dead” by Texe Marrs; see also Prov 14:20; 19:7). See Rom 8:35-37 – God loves all his people, so who is Avanzini to despise a pastor who isn’t wealthy by this world’s standards?
On this same DVD is a televangelist named Marjoe Gortner giving out the same promises of wealth if the audience would give him their money. Marjoe had been trained by his parents from a little child to preach and to fleece the people in the audience; there is footage on the DVD of Marjoe as a child of about possibly 6-8 years old, preaching to the audience while his mother sat in the front row and, with the use of pre-arranged secret signals, told him what to say, how to say it, and when to hit on the audience for their money. Marjoe tells of how, when he was working the circuit as a young pseudo-evangelist, he met another Pentecostal evangelist who had a programme on a radio station which reached 41 states in the USA. This evangelist told Marjoe how he could get even more money. He told him that in 41 states there would be at least 3000 or 4000 poor women who had a small amount of money in a cookie jar which they’d put aside for emergency use. He said he tells these women that God says there is a woman out there with $10 in a cookie jar, and that God wants her to take this money and send it to him, the speaker, and God would bless them financially. He said to Marjoe that even if only 200 or 300 think that they’re that woman and send him their precious $10, you’ve made $2000 or $3000 in a moment. Then the DVD shows Marjoe preaching to a smallish congregation and afterwards shows him in his hotel room with a big pile of cash (no coins, just notes) on his bed and he’s running his hands through it and letting it run through his fingers as he sings hymns and repeating “Praise the Lord” and so on; it was reminiscent of Walt Disney’s Scrooge McDuck diving into the cash in his money bin. This man is an unashamed charlatan, fake, fraud, and ruthless thief whose god is money and who uses the gospel to prey on naïve and gullible Christians who believe that he speaks to them from God. However, unlike the ruthless hucksters posing as Christian pastors and evangelists among whom Marjoe lived and moved, Marjoe felt guilty about his hucksterism and did a film and a book in which he admits that he is an unbeliever and wanted to put the record straight.
On TV I saw a black pastor in an African country wringing his congregation for all he could get from them, trying to tantalise them by holding out the prospect of their owning a Ferrari if they would give him money. What on earth would a poor African villager want or do with a Ferrari?
Even now (2017), Benny Hinn still has a lengthy segment on his show in which he uses the same old techniques and promises to fleece faithful and gullible Christians of their money. It is so transparently fake and so brazen that it is disgusting, yet it works and the money continues to pour into his yawning coffers as he uses the word of God to squeeze his followers for more and yet more. In the DVD “The Blind and the Dead”, we see Benny Hinn talking to an audience and laughingly saying he doesn’t want to wait until heaven where the streets are paved with gold; he says “I want it now! By the time I get there, my bills will be paid and the gold on the streets won’t help me. I’ve got bills to pay here. I need it now!” Laughing as he speaks, he unashamedly reveals his covetousness and repudiates the scriptures which say such things as: “For the love of money is the root of all evils: it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith, and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim 6:10 RSV-CE).
He also reveals his hostility to those Christians who dare to expose him on their own programmes. He says to his audience that he’s searched the scriptures through and through to find just one verse that says he can kill them; and he says he wishes he had a “Holy Ghost machine gun; I’d blow their head off”. This from a leading figure in Pentecostalism. And his wife, Suzanne, is shown waddling up and down the stage in a most undignified and degrading manner as she rages against his critics, saying they need a “Holy Ghost enema”; and then falls over in an apparent fit of impotent rage, which would no doubt be interpreted by them as the Holy Spirit coming upon her in power.
The apostle Peter warned of the danger of spiritual blessing for personal gain; when God poured out his Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by Peter and John, a well-known magician and occultist named Simon saw the results and wanted to purchase the power for himself (Acts 8:19-23).
These greedy televangelists need to take heed of Peter’s warning to Simon and repent quickly because they’re in great danger. Paul also warns, “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19). Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).
Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers
These televangelists are also false prophets and scripture abounds with warnings about them. Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-20). And Paul warned “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as the apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Cor 11:13-15).
Benny Hinn is one such false prophet. He can use scripture to deceive his devoted followers – and he does. He is so arrogant as he struts around on the stage using real spiritual power from an unclean source as he throws people to the ground with a touch – I once saw him on TV face the choir who were up in a balcony. He drew his hands back and then thrust them forward towards the choir as if he was hurling invisible thunderbolts at them, and every one of them fell to the ground in a heap. On another occasion he took off his coat and swung it around his head and towards the men who were catching the people who were falling at his hands. These men didn’t just drop to the ground – they appeared to be picked up by invisible hands and thrown along, something which they couldn’t fake. Hinn has spiritual power alright, but it’s not of God. He was acting as if possessed, frantically hurling power in every direction so that even great sections of the audience were being bowled over and scattered like skittles. It was pure showmanship but also real power emanating from him. But most of these Pentecostal televangelists have this power and ability to an equal or lesser degree and, like Hinn, are characterised by abounding arrogance, superiority and pride as, god-like, they strut around the stage, bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost, of whom they’re the self-appointed custodian and dispenser, to a devoted and gullible people over whom they hold sway.
Of his many false prophecies, he once told his audience and the world that the Lord told him that in 1994 or 1995 God was going to destroy the homosexual community of America by fire. He also told them that God told him Fidel Castro would die in the 90’s – see link:
Obviously these prophecies have not been fulfilled and the time prophesied for them has long since passed. According to scripture, this makes Benny Hinn a false prophet (Deut 18:20-22).
If the people who support Benny Hinn took heed of this command and warning, Benny and the others like him would disappear and both the Church and the world would be better for it. But Christians are too ignorant of doctrine now, and experience means far more to them. Indeed, one Pentecostal man, owner of a bookshop which sold Pentecostal books exclusively, once told me this very thing, that experience carries more weight with him than doctrine. As long as they see Benny doing his fake miracles and speaking words of scripture to which he has no right, not being a saved and godly man, he will continue to fleece them. As the saying goes, “a fool and his money are quickly parted”.
In the autobiographical account of a man named Will Baron, a man who went from being in bondage to demonic spirits to salvation and freedom in Christ, tells us that he came into contact with the spirit world through meditation. He was inhabited by a “spirit guide” who later told him to go to Christian churches and to read the bible and to infiltrate the churches in order to get them to practice meditation. His mentor, a woman occultist named Muriel, was having visions of “Jesus”; she told Baron along with the rest of her group that “the Father” had told them that they were to start watching televangelists, especially Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. As a result of watching them, and after reading a book by Yogananda, an Indian Hindu guru who had had visions of “Jesus” and who had been instructed by his guru to establish a Hindu monastery in America, he “saw” the connection between New Age and Christian teaching. The monastery revered Jesus as an important guru along with others highly regarded in Hindu religion, and “biblical sermons” were “preached” by a monk they called the pastor. Baron says “In my thinking at the time, I began to appreciate what appeared to be a wonderful connection between the various religions of the world; Jesus had appeared to Hindus, such as Yogananda, as well as Christians, such as Reverend Hagin. I perceived that all of the different religions were really just part of an emerging divine wholeness, and it was the goal of the New Age to integrate all these diversities of theological thought into one harmonious religion” (“Deceived by the New Age” by Will Baron, publ. Pacific Press Publishing, p. 102-105).
After Baron had attended several of Copeland’s meetings, during which he was quite bored because of the so-called biblical content of the sermons (what would he know whether the content was biblical or not?), he says, “I heard him describe how he had recently been given a vision from God. I heard Copeland say that Jesus would soon begin to appear in a physical form in the churches. Jesus, perhaps accompanied by his angels, would be seen walking down the aisles and would then disappear. This would occur in several churches with increasing frequency.
The statement I heard was like dynamite in my ears. Wow, I thought, this is interesting. Muriel had predicted exactly the same thing. She had recently told us at the Lighted Way that we could expect Jesus to appear during our church service.
In fact, I recalled that Muriel had also made a very similar prediction about four years previously. On that occasion, the prediction concerned the masters of the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy had informed Muriel that certain senior masters, such as Saint Germain, Koot Hoomi, or Djwhal Khul, would materialize themselves in a physical form and be seen in the Lighted Way, perhaps sitting quietly for a few minutes in one of the seats during our Sunday morning metaphysical church service.
The appearance of the masters was to be part of the ‘externalization of the Hierarchy’. This is supposedly a process in which the members of the Hierarchy appear in visual form in the world in order to promote the New Age teachings in a more dynamic manner than before” (ibid p. 108).
If Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland are regarded as trustworthy leaders by devils, what does it tell us about them?
Jesus Was Born Again in Hell
Along with fellow televangelists such as Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Oral Roberts, and all those others of the Word of Faith theology, one of Pastor Copeland’s heresies states that Jesus’ death on the cross did not atone for sin but was achieved after he died when he descended to hell and was born again.
“Kenneth Copeland explains that————In hell he (Jesus) suffered for you and me. The Bible says hell was made for the Devil and his angels (Matt25:41). It was not made for men. Satan was holding the Son of God there illegally. The trap was set for Satan and Jesus was the bait. (Ken Copeland, Walking in the Realm of the miraculous, 1979, page 77)
Copeland says further, Satan and every demon in hell tortured Christ’s “emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit” without legal right. (Kenneth Copeland, “What happened from the cross to the throne”, Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland ministries, 1990, audiotape#02-0017, side two), Copeland says, and this was exactly the opening God had been looking for. Seizing the moment, He spoke His faith-filled words into the bowels of the earth, and suddenly—-that word of the Living God went down into that pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look like something the devil had never seen before. He was literally being reborn before the devil’s very eyes. He began to flex His spiritual muscles….Jesus was born again–the first born from the dead. (Kenneth Copeland, “The price of it all,” Believers voice of victory, Sept.91).
Copeland shares this bit of Revelation knowledge when he said, The spirit of God spoke to me and He said, “Son, realize this. Now follow me in this and don’t let tradition trip you up.” He said, “Think this way—a twice born man whipped Satan in his own domain.” And I threw my Bible down and I said, “What?” He said, “A born again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him.” He said, “you are the very image, the very copy of that one.” I said, “goodness, gracious sakes alive!” And I begin to see what had gone on in there, and I said, “Well now you don’t mean, you dare not mean, that I could have done the same thing?” He said, “Oh yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that he did, you could’ve done the same thing, cause you’re a reborn man too.” (Kenneth Copeland,” Substitution and identification, tape#00-0202, side 2)”. (Author’s emphases).
There is not a word of any of Copeland’s idea of what Jesus did in hell in scripture. Jesus achieved our salvation from the cross, not from hell. The gospels tell us that Jesus’ last words were, “It is finished….Father, into your hands I commit my spirit….And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Jn 19:30; Lk 23:46; Matt 27:51; Heb 10:20). All these references reveal that Jesus had accomplished the work of atonement as a result of his death on the cross. This is confirmed in the letter of Hebrews: “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3). This purging refers to the cross, as seen in Heb 10:14. And Paul also assures us that it was by his death on the cross that Jesus reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God and to each other (Eph 2:11-16). Paul also specifically says that Jesus accomplished it in his flesh, not his spirit, as Kenneth says (see verse 15).
And, so far is the truth from what Pastor Copeland says about Jesus’ “emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit without legal right”, that the apostle Peter writes of Jesus going to the underworld in power and triumph: “being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit: in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Pet 3:18-19).
And as for God having “faith-filled words” to speak into the depths of hell, God doesn’t have faith! God is God! God didn’t create the universe by faith-filled words either, as Pastor Copeland says in his Study Bible (Genesis 1) and other places. God speaks and his command must be fulfilled – not by Gods’ faith but by his sovereign command! The mighty king and emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, said of God: “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan 4:35).
The Source of Their Power is Obvious
The presence of demons in churches has become more blatant and obvious now as we see the new breed of Pentecostal leaders with mediums such as Heidi Baker brazenly bringing her victims under the power of demons in the name of Jesus, and brutes like Todd Bentley, a pathetic figure trying to cultivate a “bad boy” image by covering his skin with tattoos and shaving his head. “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Lev 19:28). God doesn’t need us to do these things to preach the gospel; this is just worldliness and witchcraft. He wants us to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22).
On YouTube, for example, you can watch Todd Bentley laughingly boast how the Holy Spirit pointed out an old woman who was praying, facing him as she stood close to the platform; the Spirit told him to go and kick the woman in the head. So Bentley did just that. He demonstrated how, with his big biker boots on, as he states, he ran at the woman and gave her a mighty kick in the head. As he related this brutal attack, both he and his audience were laughing over the image he was conveying to them. In another YouTube video you can see a man who had been brought to Bentley for healing. He had advanced cancer in the stomach and had to be supported by another person because he was so ill and weak he could hardly walk. Bentley, looking at him, ran up to him and punched him in the stomach as hard as he could. Needless to say, the man doubled in agony and dropped to the floor. Bentley made a feeble gesture of excuse for this brutality, saying it was necessary, and that was that. The man probably died before he even got back home.
Bentley also continues to see angels everywhere, has pagan drumbeat music in his services, and to the beat of these drums he presents a woman who has all the signs of a demon-possessed and controlled medium who prophesies in a drunken, slurring way and who can hardly stand erect because she is so overcome by a spirit – an unclean spirit – although Bentley claims it is the Holy Spirit.
And during “ministry time”, he parades himself along the line of people waiting for healing or some other blessing from God, hitting them on the forehead with the heel of his hand, and shouting “BAM!” as he does so – and down they go. Sadly, this weekly scenario is all about Todd Bentley and has nothing of God in it. It is his regular platform where, while he may pay lip service to Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, he is in reality promoting himself. It is the Todd Bentley Road Show. He does not display a shred of humility, nor holiness, as he has his church members metaphorically lapping out of his hands.
I’m dumbfounded as I wonder how Christians accept such a brute as this as a Christian and a leader – even the secular world is not so stupid. No wonder Satan is so cocky as he sends his now barely disguised ministers to do their work in the churches of God – with Christians like these, his work is nearly done. What must the world think of this carnal man masquerading as a Christian? And what must they think of the Church for regarding him as a leader and a man worthy of being followed? There must be gales of laughter in hell as the demons look approvingly on Todd Bentley and his antics.
Baker is a more appealing figure in that she doesn’t have the gross appearance of Bentley but has a kind of motherly demeanour. Yet to see her on YouTube is alarming and sickening and, as the medium she is, goes into demonic trances herself and brings her victims to the same point. There is one particular young man on whom she lays hands, following which he goes into paroxysms, writhing and screaming as the demons take hold of him. These are nightmarish scenes one would expect to see only in horror movies, yet here they are in reality disguised under the name of Jesus.
Baker and Bentley are just two of the many figures who are leaders of the current Pentecostal movement; there are far too many more like them. They defile the name of Jesus and bring Christianity into derision. Foolish and gullible Christians accept all this as the work of the Holy Spirit and not only condone it but join it and encourage it. And it is happening universally, not just in the West but in Africa and Asia. Millions are caught up in a Pentecostal parody of Christianity which presents a false gospel and is promoted by false teachers and false prophets. No doubt, some of these Christians will be saved and go to be with Jesus when they die; but too many have simply fused their shamanistic religions with Christianity and what they think is the Holy Spirit, and will perish in their sins.
I’ve only been able to mention a few of them in this article, but they’re all corrupted by one or more of these characteristics which are rampant within Pentecostalism: immorality, adultery, divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, embezzlement, theft, fraud, lies, deceit, arrogance, pride, hatred of any who expose them, greed, covetousness, and false teaching. Although they have corrupted the gospel, blasphemed the Holy Spirit, and make fools of themselves and their followers in their meetings, they are the most visible representatives of Christianity. They inhabit the corridors of political power as well as business and finance; and wherever they are, they frequently give a false idea of Christ and the Gospel to an unbelieving and hostile world.
New Agers have exactly the same experiences as Pentecostals – falling down in great bursts of ecstasy, love for the world and for the universe, a feeling of “love” for all, violent shaking with the head frantically shaking from one side of the body to the other, pogo-sticking, howling like dogs, and so on. The only difference is that whereas the New Agers have an increased love for the universe, Pentecostals have an increased love for Jesus. Catholics, likewise, have exactly the same kind of baptism in the Spirit as Pentecostals and New Agers, the difference being that they become even more devoted to Mary.
So experience alone is no indication of a person’s spiritual state or of their relationship with God. As can be seen with people like Todd Bentley and Heidi Baker, experience can be and is frequently Satanic in origin rather than of the Holy Spirit.
This is not to say, however, that I think all Pentecostal Christians and pastors are not saved. There are many Pentecostal Christians and churches in the world who are promoting the gospel joyfully and passionately. The body of Christ has many members and each have their part to play in the whole. In this article I’ve merely highlighted some of the things which I see as dangerous and definitely not Christian, and too many Pentecostal Christians accept these modern-day shamans and mediums as being great men and women of God when in fact they’re anything but, and are bringing Satan into the church on a huge scale.
Chips off the Old Block
As I think about what is happening in these large Pentecostal ministries and churches, and compare it with the local Pentecostal churches or with “good” Pentecostal pastors and ministries such as David Wilkerson, there seems at first sight to be a reasonable disparity between them. On the one hand there is the chaos, greed, fraud, theft, sexual immorality, false teaching, false prophecies, contempt of any Christians who dare to speak against them, etc. which seem to characterise Pentecostalism, and on the other are lovely Christians in local Pentecostal assemblies who have a vibrant faith. And it seemed to me at first as I considered all this recently, that the Pentecostal televangelists from the 80’s and 90’s were not as bad as the new breed, such as Bill Johnson, whose church seems to be the hub of the new Pentecostalism, Todd Bentley and Heidi Baker and their cohorts.
But as I watched the DVD “The Blind and the Dead”, and “The Great Apostasy: The Lost Sign”, I was absolutely appalled as I was slapped into reality. Here I saw the chaos, insanity and utter ungodliness of even the most senior and well-known Pentecostal leaders e.g. Kenneth E. Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, John Avanzini, Rodney Howard-Browne, and many others whose names and ministries I’ve not heard of before, displaying everything that the bible is against. It was sickening to see the antics that went on in their “worship” meetings. I felt like I was looking at scenes from hell. And watching Copeland and Hagin, along with other Pentecostal leaders and a whole congregation laughing uncontrollably, barking and howling like dogs, men and women moving around the open floor space on hands and knees like animals, one man on his hands and knees with a leash around his neck as another held on to him There were people rolling on the floor in uncontrollable fits of laughter, and men and women were sliding off their chairs onto the floor – it truly was the cackling of demons – hideous, ugly, degrading, and frightening. I wondered how these people can call themselves Christians and teach in the name of Jesus when everything they do is so totally opposed to everything he exemplified and taught. And I saw, finally, that the current expression of Pentecostalism is no different to that of the earlier period. I also saw that the local Pentecostal churches are no better, in general, because they do exactly the same only on a smaller scale. One of the local Pentecostal churches near me, for example, has been hosting an Australian Pentecostal pastor who spent three years at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church. See attached link for information about Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, Heidi Baker, and other false prophets and false teachers:
So I hope that Pentecostal Christians will understand when I say I can’t tell the difference between the good and the bad in their version of Christianity; and that what I see therein frightens me. The question I ask of Pentecostals is what spirit do they have? If their most prominent leaders and teachers give notably false prophecies, teach damnable false doctrine, are led by their spirit to behave like animals, while many of them have been caught up in sexual immorality, adultery and divorce, or been caught stealing large sums of money or embezzling from their own churches, what does this say about them and the Pentecostal movement at large? What does it say about the spirit that motivates and energises them?
And what of the televangelists who deceive their followers, steal their money, and leave them with a false hope? Jesus tells us. He says “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers” (Matt 7:21-23).
White, J, 1992, “When The Spirit Comes With Power”, publ. Hodder and Stoughton, London. Copyright 1988 by John White
Revised Standard Version Bible, Ignatius Edition, Copyright 2006, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America