Brownsville: Toronto or Not? (Part Two of Two)
by A. Strom 1996
that since I wrote my last article about what has been occurring in Brownsville,
Florida, and the true origins of that movement, there has been quite an
attempt made to "clean up" this revival even further.
Several recent reports
say that people exhibiting "weird" manifestations, etc, are now routinely
removed from the main meetings. I know that my article has been read by
some of the leadership of that movement, and I am very glad if, in some
small way, the points raised about the 'Toronto'-type manifestations that
are occurring there have helped cause a few questions to be asked. However,
I still stand by my previous comments, and wish to note that merely removing
those who are being affected by these 'Toronto'-type phenomena does not
in any way solve the real problem, but rather just hides it from public
disputed the fact which I raised in my previous article that the main
revival leader at Brownsville (Steve Hill, who was previously renowned
as a successful repentance evangelist) came there having just done serious
"carpet-time" at a large 'Toronto' church in London. And it is obvious
from the results that ensued in Brownsville that this 'Toronto' spirit
was now very much in evidence there also having been "transferred in"
by Mr Hill. This has happened with this 'Toronto' spirit all over the
world. It is very easily transferred in this way.
In a recent
interview published in the 'SCC Revival News' (1-1-97), Steve Hill himself
recalled how he had been prayed for by Sandy Millar (a well-known 'blessing'
leader) at Holy Trinity Brompton church in London, even though he had
previously read that in that church, "They were laughing, they were
falling..." He recalled: "I walked into the stately Anglican church in
down town London right by Harrod's, the richest area of town, and stepped
over about 500 bodies, people shaking all over the place.. I went up to
him, he laid his hands on my head and it was over. I mean, I went down
under the power of the Holy Spirit." And this was the exact 'anointing'
that Mr Hill transferred into Brownsville. (He is quite open about it).
When asked, 'What do you make of the physical manifestations?' in this same
interview about Brownsville, he replied: "The Lord is welcome in this
place to do anything he wants. But there is a balance here. They receive
the gospel, they receive the cross, the blood. When the manifestations
come, I welcome the manifestations, but I don't major on the minors." (SCC Revival News #115).
he plainly states that he "welcomes" these Toronto-like manifestations,
though he doesn't major on them. (Actually, the Toronto Airport fellowship
itself claims exactly the same thing!) But doesn't the mere fact that
such manifestations are occurring in such a widespread way at Brownsville
support my main contention that at heart, this movement is little more
than 'Toronto' under a different guise?
To my knowledge,
no-one has denied the comments I made in my previous article about the
severe 'Cerebral Palsy'-type manifestations that began occurring in Brownsville,
or the fact that the MAIN PASTOR HIMSELF, John Kilpatrick, wrote a brief
article early on, defending the unusual manifestations that were occurring,
and listing some of them as:
on the floor (for the purpose of "deep inner healing, preparation
for ministry, physical healing, receiving of visions, feeling the
love of God");
("head, hands, feet, and body"); and
As I wrote
in my previous article, can anyone tell me in what significant way such
manifestations differ from 'Toronto'?
I have no
doubt at all that there are cases of genuine repentance occurring at Brownsville.
After all, Steve Hill was already a successful repentance evangelist well
before he went near the Toronto movement. And God never removes such giftings.
But as I wrote in my last article, is it not possible for even a man of
God to be deceived, and to begin to operate under a counterfeit anointing
in some area of their ministry? (History clearly shows that it is, and
that such men almost always continue under their God-given anointing as
well as under the new foreign spirit).
I have already
gone into the origins of the Toronto spirit and the manifestations that
it causes, in previous articles. Suffice it to say, that I believe that
the Scriptural prophecies about 'seducing spirits', lying signs and wonders
and "great deception" arising from within the church (that would 'deceive
if possible the very elect') are speaking of the very days that we are
now living in. And it is this "mixture" of a genuine repentance preacher
who is now also operating under what I believe to be an alien spirit,
that alarms me most about the Brownsville movement. I believe that this
spirit is now being transmitted far and wide, into many 'conservative'
churches, by means of Brownsville.
it seems clear to me from reports that I have received from other churches
where 'Brownsville' has been introduced, that it is very largely NOT the
"repentance" side of things that is TRULY being transferred, but far more
the "fall down and shake and jerk and do 'carpet time'" side of things.
The preachers who visit Brownsville and take it back to their churches
are often nothing like 'repentance' preacher Steve Hill. And so, what
ends up happening in their churches is often far closer to a "fall down
and feel good" move than anything else (though the 'repentance and holiness'
terminology is still used all the while, of course!) I am convinced that
it is essentially 'Toronto' that is being transferred to other churches
from Brownsville, rather than any true spirit of conviction. But this
is a far more "subtle" version of Toronto one that the conservative Southern
churches will buy ( who would NEVER have bought the original). Please
remember that we are living in days in which deceptions will arise that
will deceive the 'VERY ELECT' if that were possible. I also believe
that God is DELIBERATELY "giving over" the Laodicean church to deception
at this time. Judgement is truly beginning at the "house of God".
To back up
what I have been saying, here are some extracts from an email I received
from one American churchgoer after 'Brownsville' had flooded into his
an Assemblies of God church here in ----, Wisconsin, where after our
pastor visited Brownsville at the end of May, many of the same things
have been happening here. For some, this has been disturbing, while
others like myself are somewhat unsure, and yet others have gone headlong
into "the river" (as they like to refer to it here). During the first
few weeks of June, services did not proceed in any normal fashion, usually
with people spontaneously going to the altar during worship. The initial
lack of preaching, which has resumed but somewhat in a fashion emulating
Brownsville (we have an evangelist "on staff" now), bothered me emmensely.
I believe many sincerely seek more of the Lord, but the "falling bodies"
aspect soon took over... [He goes on to say that "holiness, repentance,
and evangelism" have certainly been talked about a fair bit, but that...]
37 years old, and have been in pentecostal circles since my birth, so
I am familiar with what one might refer to as the "typcial" phenomena.
We do see "jerking" here but mostly young people, although also in a
few young adults - something I have not seen before in my experience.
things continue to bother me:
people first began to fall over while being prayed for by a pastor,
I noticed that the pastors had already arranged for ushers to be there
to "catch" them. I have seen people fall over under the influence of
the Holy Spirit before, but I've never known the Lord to drop someone
to the floor in a manner that would cause them bodily injury... In our
church, I overheard one women telling one of the pastors that she "was
afraid to be prayed for again," because the last time, they didn't catch
her and she hurt her shoulder. [Such injuries are not uncommon in
'Toronto', but in true Revivals God makes sure people are unhurt when
they fall. Please think about this, it's important].
have sincerely tried to guard myself by sincerely asking whether it
is really more of the Lord I want, or just His bless ing. I see many
immature christians, who I sense are after something to make them "feel
good" rather than to purify them selves as holy vessels for the work
of our Lord. I have however been tempted to desire the manifestations,
as if that would indicate spiritual "status", or even just to feel as
if I was missing out on something. Our middle daughter sometimes came
away from a service feeling almost depressed because she didn't "feel"
or "experience" what others were. She is very tender hearted toward
the Lord however, but this attitude gives me a very strange feeling.
Last week, without being prayed for, she began "jerking" although not
violently in any way. After reading your comments, I feel concerned
that I might be exposing my children to something dangerous..." R.L,
that this is the 'Brownsville' movement that has hit his church but notice
the tremendous similarities to Toronto].
are some extracts from another email I received from the United States
on the same subject:
me first tell you that I come from a Charismatic background and am not
unfamiliar about movements of God. I however am also an engineer, and
as such analyze most everything. Let me start with a little self disclosure.
An evangelist from Pensacola (not Brownsville) came to our church for
a "Signs and Wonders" conference. It was at this meeting that I went
forward for prayer. After the prayer, the evangelist said " be drunk
in the Spirit". Suddenly, I began to laugh uncontrollably. I doubled
over, fell to the ground and laughed for literally fifteen to twenty
minutes. Every time I tried to stop, it started over. I laughed so hard
and long that at the end I had muscle spasms and cramps. I didn't think
much of this until reading your articles about Toronto. Then I started
to think anew about this experience. I started to analyze: What did
I get out of this experience? Why would God have me laugh so long as
to cause physical pain? Was I, a born again, Bible thumping fanatic
for God deceived? Hard questions, but ones that demanded answers...
friend of my pastor who lives in Dothan Alabama went to [Brownsville]
Pensacola. There he saw many manifestations. He was sitting near the
front of the church and he started to hear a dog bark. His initial reaction
was, " how dare someone bring their pet into the house of God". He then
turned around and saw that it was a woman doing the barking. He was
so upset that he left not to return. After this experience, my pastor
then went down. Because he was a pastor, both he and his wife were ushered
toward the front. Here he could see a group of people in what he per
ceived was a section dedicated to the infirmed. They were all rocking
and shaking and moving about quite violently. They con tinued this until
it was time to greet one another. At this point, they all stopped their
movements and proceeded about normally. This surprised him. He said
that the message given was good, but he did notice that the actual pastor
of the church rocked back and forth in his seat throughout the entire
service. This seemed quite strange.
the service it was time for personal ministry and a salvation call.
When the people started coming forth for salvation, a woman began to
shriek quite loudly. My pastor said that it was quite evident that this
was demonic. However, not one usher when over to quite her or to escort
her out. My pastor excused this because of the large crowd and the difficulty
of getting to the place that the woman was standing. A woman came over
to his wife and started to pray for her. She was then "driven" to her
knees. Later, she said that she never had experienced anything like
it. At this point my pastor and wife started to leave. The actual pastor
of the place was going around "slaying" people. He rushed up to my pastor's
wife, and in her words "pushed me over". After this experience, they
were walking to the car and my pastor's wife was overcome with laughter.
She laughed through the parking lot and sat in the car for about ten
minutes trying to compose herself.
don't know me, but I am a sold out radical for my Lord Jesus. I study
the Bible every day, I pray continuously, and the Lord is very active
in my life. If with a lack of understanding, a "manifestation" as powerful
as the one I experienced could occur to me, everyone should be aware.
When you go forward for prayer, seeking the Lord, you must be careful
about who is praying for you! If you ask for bread the heavenly Father
will give it to you, but if you ask one whom is only operating under
a deception, you may get a stone."
some very significant extracts from yet another email which I received
recently from America:
summer of 1996, Charisma magazine published an extensive article on
the "revival" taking place at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola,
Florida. Great care was given to describe this "revival" as being quite
different from the Toronto Blessing. Throughout the article, it was
claimed that this was in fact an authentic revival with repentance and
salvations occurring nightly.. in the tradition of the great revivals
of the past.
an urge by the Holy Spirit to make a detour on my family vacation and
visit the Brownsville Assembly of God. So with great anticipation and
expectation I arrived in Pensacola late on a Friday evening in August...
I was still unsuspecting as to what waited for me at the Brownsville
Assembly of God. I got to the meeting early, excited at the prospect
of perhaps seeing a true revival, something I know every believer of
Jesus Christ longs to see in the church. It is so desperately needed.
As I talked with those waiting, everyone encouraged us that our long
trip would not be in vain, that we would be greatly blessed. I purchased
some booklets in the lobby excited to learn more about what God was
the meeting began with worship. My excitement and enthusiasm quickly
vanished. Something seemed very wrong to me. I thought maybe I was expecting
too much. The worship was very typical of the modern contemporary worship
that I had been accust omed to, most of the songs familiar, but something
didn't seem right in the Spirit.. Then the manifestations began. Young
girls walking around gesturing as though they were mentally ill. One
of the worship leaders, a female, collapsed on the floor during theh
worship where she remained for a long time. I kept telling myself..
keep an open mind. I kept asking God.. is this you.. if this is you,
give me a peace in my spirit. It never came. As the speakers began to
share, I became increasing disturbed. They spoke of the mystical appearance
of the river on that fateful Sunday in June of 1995 and how its power
swept into the building and changed every thing. They went on and on
about manifestations, particularly about bizarre behaviors in which
they believed they were birthing things through intercession. The pastor's
wife spoke and the entire time she was on the platform she jerked uncontrollably
as she told stories of phenomenon. Finally, I could stand it no longer.
I looked at my family and said let's get out of here. They were quick
to agree. I left the materials that I had purchased on the church parking
lot. I didn't even want to take them in my car.
I was devastated. I was so disappointed... The deceptive power of the
enemy is awesome and adaptive. The folks promoting Pensacola are cleverly
answering the objections that have been made to the Toronto Blessing.
They are now pack aging this revival as authentic, patterned after the
revivals of John Wesley's day. This is deception and I believe with
all my heart that the spirit operating at Pensacola is a religious spirit,
a counterfeit spirit...
I wish to declare again that I absolutely stand by the substance of everything
I wrote in my previous article on Brownsville. I believe that the warnings
I have given on this subject have not been overstated, but rather have
provided a reasonable and timely reminder that the possibility for deception
exists EVERYWHERE, not just in the cults or the New Age movement. Just
how alert are we Christians in these last days the days in which deception
will abound? I do believe in Revival (in fact I have a whole web-site
devoted to the subject), but I cannot go along with the deadly form of
mixture which I believe lies at the heart of the Brownsville movement.
And I am still convinced that its leaders are going to quite some lengths
to distance their movement from 'Toronto', when in fact these two are
very closely related indeed.
Pensacola: "Toronto" or not?' copyright (c) Andrew Strom, 1996