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The Persecuted Church

 

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  SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT

What Charismatic’s enthusiasts say is when the Spirit comes upon you it will overcome you with power, slaying you. Today this has become the common denominator of the Spirits presence with power and is sought after as proof of receiving the anointing. With such people as Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Richard Roberts and a host of others who have developed it to be a trademark of their meetings. This is not to discount that the Holy Spirit can do unusual things, however before we put a stamp of approval on a practice to be a normality instead of the unusual, we need to see if it is promoted as such in the Scriptures.

What do we find? We do not see any of this practiced or even hinted in the Scripture. When the Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism He came up out of the water; He didn’t collapse and sink down! The Lord Jesus had power to heal even the worst cases of disease, blindness and crippled limbs, and yet no one who Jesus ever touched fell over “slain.” Nor do we find Peter or John touching people and causing them to fall over. They did not ask other disciples to stand behind those they were going to lay hands on, to catch them as they toppled backward by the power. The New Testament has no people lining up waiting for the “anointing” to be passed on from another, not even the Apostles. Can you picture any of the Apostles running up to people and slapping them on the forehead, or lining people up to be slain? No soft music or repetitive choruses were sung to set an atmosphere for the anointing to fall. No one yelled repetitive phrases like, “Fire!” or “touch” or “More, Lord!” So where does this all come from ?

Those who advocate this practice need to consider what they are really attributing to the Holy Spirit. There is no Biblical precedent for being “slain in the Spirit” as we see practiced today.

Jesus is the baptizer, who anoints with the Holy Spirit. The power really comes only from Christ, just what are people receiving through this experience? Do these displays of power become the convincing proof of God’s presence? John 10:41-42 records, “Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.’ And many believed in Him there.” John convinced the people without a display of miracles. It was the truth that converted them and made them into followers. It is by knowing the truth (the Word) that keeps people following faithfully, not displays of power. We don’t need to be slain “in the Spirit”, but cut “by the Spirit,” the Word (John 6:63; Hebrews 4:12). One way is by expositional preaching the other is offered by experience. One comes by the Word that is objective, that teaches and convicts through the Holy Spirit, the other is subjective, by a person touching you or imparting a power. The Word is Biblical, the other is not.

The Old Testament has many examples of saints who fell to the ground. In Genesis 15:12-18 when Abraham was put to sleep horror and great darkness fell upon him, but it was not pleasant. This was a special event signifying God’s covenant with Abraham as God told about his offspring’s future. This act was not repeated for any of his descendents. Notice the passage indicates that the experience was not enjoyable. Genesis 17:3 Abraham falls on his face, but this does not describe an involuntary act of being slain in the Spirit as some claim. Abraham fell face forward toward the ground on his own accord, in reverence, in an act of fully conscious worship.

Scriptures used to validate this as Biblical are:

Gen.15, 17:1-3; Josh.5:13-15; Ez.1:28,43;1-5, 44:4; Mt.17:5-6; Rev.1:7, 7:11, 11:16-17; Acts 9.

Many fell backwards in Scripture, but it was not a blessing! In 1 Samuel 4:18: Eli fell off his seat backwards on hearing of the death of his sons and the capture of the Ark and he died. Isaiah 28:13 the prophet speaks of God’s Word sent to refresh, but if not heard it became a judgment “that they may go and stumble backward, and be broken.” In all these examples it is a judgment, not a blessing! In 1 Samuel 28:20 we read of Saul immediately collapsing “full length” on the ground upon hearing of his impending death from Samuel after consulting the witch of Endor.

2 Chronicles 5, describes God’s glory filling the newly completed Temple. It says, “The priests could not continue ministering ... for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (v.14). This cannot be made into a normative occurrence for today’s Church, as many have tried to do. This was a celebration because the temple was completed, the ark was brought in and Solomon had the priests assemble inside the most holy place. Inside the glory manifested physically as cloud in a contained place, the rest of Israel was still standing outside. In 2 Chronicles 7:2 and I Kings 8:11 the priests could not enter the temple or perform the priestly duties of the LORD because the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD.

In Ezekiel 1:28 and 2:1 the prophet is overwhelmed by the vision he saw and falls forward in worship. Those who are holy fall forward in conscious submission to God’s Holy presence. They do not become dazed and confused, as in some spirit services today. Those who are enemies fall backward when confronted with God’s true power. Philippians 2 says every knee will bow. Those who are conscious of who they serve bow forward, willingly and fully conscious. Those who fall backward overwhelmed, show a lack of submission, and rebellion.

Daniel, in 10:4-11 encountered a powerful angel and said, “I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale, and I was helpless... I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.” Daniel fell on his face; he fell forward. This was not without purpose. Daniel, a prophet, was receiving revelation that would become Scripture. Since in the Old Testament those who were affected in this manner were not born again, indwelt permanently by the Holy Spirit, this experience cannot be used as normative for the Church today. When John saw Jesus glorified in heaven (Revelation 1:17) he describes that, ‘“I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” John was overcome with fear; he did not recognize Him as the Jesus He knew on earth.

What about Saul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9? Those who promote the “slain in the Spirit” phenomenon cite Saul’s encounter with the appearance of the Lord on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3-4 for Biblical support. Saul was an unbeliever on his way to his next extermination. He was knocked to the ground by a light (the Sheckinah glory) and he had a revelation of Christ. When Saul fell, no one touched him and no one was there to catch him. The Scripture doesn’t actually say how he fell, but the Greek language seems to indicate he went to the ground on his own volition. Jesus does not appear to be the source of Paul’s falling to the ground, Jesus did not allow Paul to remain on the ground, but told him to “arise and go into Damascus.” Remember Saul was unsaved at the time, so this does not provide any justification for regarding it as a model for believers to practice today. He was consciously carrying on a conversation with the Lord. In Acts 26:14 Paul, recalling the event, states all who were with him saw the light and fell to the ground, but only he heard the voice (Acts 22:9). This was an extreme measure designed to get Paul’s attention, as he was on his way to kill Christians. The others with Paul who also fell were unbelievers and stayed in their unbelieving state. Therefore, this incident involving falling to the ground (being slain by the Spirit) cannot be used to support the idea that it is a spiritual blessing, as commonly said today.

In examples from either the Old Testament or the New, the men affected did not have a permanent indwelling of the Spirit. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, in John 18:4-6 He reveals His power in a unique way. He identified himself to the soldiers who were arresting him and they “drew back and fell to the ground.” Jesus first revealed Himself by saying His divine name, “I Am,” making it clear who it is they came for. When He identified Himself to them, they fell to the ground in judgment. These pagan sinners did fall -- backwards. They did not experience revelation or receive an anointing, or conversion, they got right back up and arrested Jesus. There was no change in them; they were still enemies of Jesus. Also, none of Jesus’ followers fell down during the arrest. Certainly none of this represents a pattern for the Church. Those who practice the artful ritual of being “slain in the Spirit” today deny or ignore these Biblical facts in order to embrace an experience that is not endorsed in the whole New Testament.

This is even stated in the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements “There is no mention of the Spirit here (Jn.18:1-6) and John portrays no relationship between Spirit and power and Jesus. The text remains enigmatic, especially since John offers neither explanation for, nor effect of their fall.

Those who are in rebellion to God seem to fall backward in Scripture. This just may be a sign today, not as a blessing but to show that these people are not submitting to His Word; so it is a sign of judgment. The idea that God is doing a “new thing” is without any biblical precedent. Their attempt to justify and defend this practice is by going to texts from the Old Testament. and yanking them out of their context and background. Trying to use the few incidents in Acts one cannot make them normative for the Church (believers) today.

The power is suppose to get people up not put them down and out. At the gate Beautiful Peter said to the blind man, “silver and gold I have none, but in the name of Jesus, RISE UP and walk.” Most of these new anointed dispensers of power can’t say the same because silver and gold they have abundantly. The power of God got people up, those who were thrown to the ground shaking and having convulsions were not possessed by the Holy Spirit but often demon-possessed in need of deliverance. They were not reacting from receiving God’s power they were in need of God’s power for it to stop.

Many travel to crusades to get this anointing from the anointed mediator who dispenses it. What is the purpose of someone being knocked to the floor and they are picked up and the whole procedure is repeated up to eight times. Was not the first time enough to receive an anointing. What is the purpose of this experience all about? Who is getting the attention at the time? We are not to be drawing attention to the vessel but the Lord who is working through the instrument. Is the first anointing that he places on people not enough? Or is it for show? He sometimes has people falling together like a violent pile-up on a freeway. People are lifted off the ground resembling a martial arts movie. Nothing glorifies God with this behavior. Martial arts, Chi power, the Gurus touch people ( as in the occult), and can certainly knock them over. These are similarities that cannot be overlooked. Can someone say touch or wave their arms or point their fingers and release the anointing having someone go down. When we see Tele-evangelists blow on people they go down yet when Christ breathed on the disciples they did not. When Jesus touched people they did not fall. God has not entrusted this type of power to any man today. The biblical model is whenever the Spirit fell they were not expecting him. The Spirit is called the comforter, the helper another one like Jesus. When Jesus left he said he would send us another like himself. His role was to replace the physical Jesus by indwelling all believers giving them a relationship with God. the question we need to ask is did Jesus act this erratic and have power displays? If not then why should the Spirit act this way when he is to point to Jesus. Is this the nature of Jesus or something other then him operating? How is it the person who dispenses this power that can knock people down, can stand through it all. That they can touch people even the catchers and they don’t go down during the service. How is the same person who just was felled over by his touch can afterward be hugged and not go over. Who then is in control if it only happens at the wave of his hand or when he says the word? Why does this only occur at the big crusades and where they meet for service and it does not take place during their days chores.

Charles Hodge one of the great theologians had this to say about this experience “..There is nothing in the Bible to lead us to regard these bodily affections as the legitimate effects of religious feelings, no such results followed the preaching of Christ or his apostles. We hear of no general outcries, faintings, convulsions, or ravings in the assemblies which they addressed…”It is evident that loud outcries and convulsions are inconsistent with these things, and therefore ought to be discouraged. They cannot be from God, for he is not the author of confusion” ( C. Hodge p.80 1851).

The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. The question those who are open to new experiences should ask themselves is… would God offer me an experience that has me sacrifice a characteristic of the Spirit? Would He cause me to act in a way opposite to His nature and what He himself is trying to conform me to? Ephesians 5:18-19 tells us “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” This is an ongoing command, we are to be continually filled with the Spirit. But is this to be an experience all the time, does it show itself physically? No. Paul says to be filled with the Spirit, means self control and joy, singing. The opposite of the true Biblical filling of the Spirit is to be out of control, laid out on the ground. He is making a CONTRAST. The Bibles definition simply means for us to yield and be under his control, the opposite is to be out of control as a rag doll on the ground, drunk and incapacitated. Paul says to be filled with the Spirit gives one self control. To be filled means we yield to the Lord and give Him control of our lives. He wants us active doing His work, not knocked out, numb or dumb. Being filled with the Spirit does not produce the same effects as alcoholic beverages, it is just the opposite. If it did the people who enjoy it would be coming to the church for their natural high fix. Many people say it is the joy of the Lord , but the joy of the Lord is our strength not weakness, it does not make one unable to rise off the ground.

Many incentives prepare someone for this supposed spiritual experience. First there is the anticipation of this happening; the autosuggestion of going down. They accept the experience because they are already predisposed to the idea that one falls when the Spirit comes upon them, and already accept this experience being from God. They are open mentally to this being from God. Therefore when someone touches them or points their way they comply. Another thing to consider is the peer pressure to conform to what is going on and expected in the gathering. When someone comes up in a big crowd they are expected to go down. They might be embarrassed not to fall down when everyone else is falling, or they may be considered unspiritual, and others might think something is wrong with them. Falling down at the right time becomes a learned methodology. Many people had admitted later they went down so they would not disappoint the speaker. Others may go down in hope that this might bring an experience they never had before. Still others say they were overcome by a power.

We need to consider a possibility that if true, can be unspeakably dangerous for the participants, that is, the operation of demonic powers. Many who have studied occult phenomena in false religions find that “slain in the Spirit” is not a new phenomenon. This power is found in Hinduism, the wife of Shiva the destroyer is kali known also as Shakti the force. When a devotee receives the touch from the Guru on the forehead they can be knocked to the ground, they can laugh, shake or experience being caught up in some ecstatic illumination experiencing Nirvana and light. There are many pagan religious practices, such as “shakti-pat” by Hindu gurus, which when observed looks exactly like being “slain in the Spirit.” The only difference is that their practices came first, preceding the modern Pentecostal practice. The cults also describe the Spirit as a force. Bruce R. McConkie, who was an apostle and authority of the Mormon Church wrote, “The Spirit of God which emanates from Deity may be likened to electricity” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 752-53). Isn’t this what we are hearing from those experiencing these manifestations?

The only way to know the true from the false is to test it. Jesus had the greatest anointing, yet, when He prayed for people they did not fall over; neither did Jesus go down when He was anointed. The Spirit came upon him as a dove, as a gentle companion. This phenomena and practice is foreign to Scripture. Can the Holy Spirit be thrown around like a force? This Spirit goes where the conductor tells Him to go. Biblically we are to submit and take our guidance from the Spirit, this is the opposite. Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit goes where He will, He chooses how He will be known in the heart and life of a believer, and it is not for any man to decide when His abiding in another is to be.  In John 3:8 we read, “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot not tell where it came, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” No one knows where the Spirit comes from or where the Spirit goes. The Spirit is likened to the wind. Those who can dispense the anointing seem to tell the Spirit where to go and know where He will go next and what He or “it” will do. Think, my friend! Where do we find these experiences? Even the apostles did not have such experiences! What is operating? What is the source? Remember the Spirit is God himself who is supposedly thrown around the room. Whenever the presence came in the Old Testament all were affected but today the dispenser of this power stands strong while the participants all go down. Are they alone immune to its affects ?

The Bible commands us to test it. Mature Christians test the spirits; babies, weak and carnal Christians avoid testing, (Hebrews 5:13-14) because of naiveté or just insecurity and wanting to avoid know the truth. The result will be the same for all who do not guard their souls. They fall into destructive and non-Biblical practices that hurt their own Christian walk and testimonies. Much like the speaking in tongues as proof of the Spirits presence, this too has gone beyond the Bibles boundaries.

One of the earliest stories of this occurring in modern times outside the shamans is from a woman named Maria Woodsworth-Etter (1844-1924) She was a preacher in the holiness movement in the 1880’s. She gained a reputation by falsely prophesying that San Francisco would be destroyed by an earthquake in 1890. She describes her power from a vision ...Maria had a great vision. Angels came into her room. They took her to the West, over prairies, lakes, forests, and rivers where she saw a long, wide field of waving golden grain. As the view unfolded she began to preach and saw the grains begin to fall like sheaves. Then Jesus told her that, “just as the grain fell, so people would fall” as she preached. (Wayne E. Warner, “Neglect Not the Gift That Is in Thee,” Etter Sermon from The Woman Evangelist p. 10)

Alan Morrison of Diakrisis Publications in England discusses the phenomenon that made this woman famous. “In her preaching in the 1880’s, she advocated a religious experience she called the “power”, and she would often go into a trance during the services, standing with her hands raised in the air for more than an hour. Nicknamed the trance- evangelist and even the voodoo priestess, she was often accused of hypnotizing people. And here is where we come to the very crux of the “slain in the Spirit Phenomenon.” Morrison identifies this hidden power that Maria discovered which was non other than the ancient art of hypnotism that almost a century (1734-1815) before was practiced with the same results by Anton Mesmer. “As one researcher of the occult has noted, the phenomenon that are now defined as hypnotic emerged from the faith healing activities of Mesmer at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (James Webb, the Occult Establishment Open Court 1976, p.352) “

Mesmer could actually be considered the father of slain in the Spirit except that he was plainly an occultist. Mesmer claimed to have discovered what he dubbed as animal magnetism. Having an interest in ESP and doing a doctoral study on astrology, He took a scientific approach on reaching spiritual contacts and trances through animal magnetism (universal fluid). “ What he discovered was an activation of strange powers in man that would help him gain insights into cosmic truths hidden from most of humanity by a veil of ignorance.”

He had written in his doctoral dissertation and repeated in a series of writings, the hoary fallacies could be shown to have essential truth within in them when interpreted scientifically-Astrology, alchemy, Oneiromancy (divination by dreams), divination. He then explained it through animal magnetism. Others who were also influenced by Mesmer were Samuel Hanneman founder of Homeopathy (New age medicine). Phineas B.Quimby who was also a mesmerist, he first attributed the power to Spirits for the use of this unknown energy but later said it was the mind. He healed Mary baker Eddy through this power who then became the founder of Christian Science a mind science Cult.

Helena Blavatsky the mediumistic founder of theosophy read Mesmer’s works which gave her a working foundation in mysticism. The evolution of this method went from calling it occult power to hypnosis. When looked at carefully there the differences are hardly noticeable. John Weldon in his book Psychic Forces and occult Shock records on pg.255 “In fact , no occult phenomenon found in Mesmerism is lacking in hypnosis.”…It appears that, in essence modern hypnotism is mesmerism. Martin Ebon, fairly well respected as an occult authority, even connects the two: “The Mesmeric, or hypnotic, trance bears a close resemblance to the mediumistic trance.” Mesmers activity could hardly be distinguished from what is transpiring in some of the charismatic wing of the Church today. “Mesmer marched about majestically in a pale lilac robe, passing his hands over patients bodies or touching them with a long iron wand. The results varied . some patients felt nothing at all, some felt as if insects were crawling over them, others were seized with hysterical laughter, convulsions or fits of hiccups. Some went into raving delirium, which was called “the crises” and was considered extremely healthful” (R. Cavendish, the magical arts RKP 1984 pg.180). What was described is people feeling good, uplifted, felt a release and had a sense of well being from the experience. Mesmer could actually be considered the father of modern “slain in the Spirit” experience, except that he was plainly an occultist. Imagine, the same conduct and results coming from non- Christians! Hmm.

Dr.Fritjof Capra a physics professor at Berkeley university and new age adherent says “Shamans used therapeutic techniques such as groups sharing psychodrama, dream analysis, suggestion, hypnosis, guided imagery{visualization} and psychotheraphy for centuries before they were rediscovered by modern psychologists. (The Turning Point p.337 1982)

By pursuing a blessing they have abandoned truth in place of a supernatural experience. This not a Biblical experience but can be a supernatural one. In so doing they have inadvertently become open to deception by accepting this without any testing. Mr. Hinn has been called a spirit fanatic by some, this is not something new . Martin Luther who began the reformation said that there were a certain group of preachers of his day who confuse their own spirit with the Holy Spirit “they think they have swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all.” John Calvin warned “the fanaticism which discards the scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle in Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit the tendency is always to bury the word of God so they can make room for their own falsehood.”

People have succumb to the oldest charade, in their pursuit of a blessing they have abandoned truth in place of a supernatural experience without ever testing the source for Biblical proof. Does the Bible show people line up in a church service in a row and have the power dispersed from an anointed person. There are no conduits for his power, Jesus has and always will be the baptizer of the Holy Spirit we don’t need any other mediator. Jesus is our example. When Jesus was anointed, the Spirit came upon him as a dove, not as a wild animal like a rhinoceros.

Those who participate in this practice need to consider what they are really attributing to the Holy Spirit. There is no Biblical precedent for this and need to consider the source of the activity. We are not excluding that God cannot overwhelm someone with his presence, what needs to be questioned is when it becomes a normal practice in the church that represents the Spirits work.

Mr. Hinn has been called a spirit fanatic by some, this is not something new. Martin Luther who began the reformation said that there were a certain group of preachers of his day who confuse their own spirit with the Holy Spirit “they think they have swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all.” John Calvin warned “the fanaticism which discards the scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle in Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit the tendency is always to bury the word of God so they can make room for their own falsehood.”

Truly the ancient words of the prophet Hosea ring true for us today, as it did then, “MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, BECAUSE THEY HAVE REJECTED KNOWLEDGE” (Hosea 4:6)

When experience replaces Biblical knowledge, we have abandoned God’s standard. Knowledge can be painful when it corrects us, but it can cost much more to follow falsehood, which by its nature is easy to swallow and soothing to those who refuse the truth.

 

 

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