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some said it thundered The Kansas City Prophets Exposed

"Old Wine in New Wineskins"


A Look at the Kansas City Prophets
by Stephen F. Cannon

© 1990 Personal Freedom Outreach

There is a "new move of God" flowing forth out of Kansas City, Mo., that has a great potential to wreak havoc in the church. Actually, there is nothing new about it. It combines elements of the "Latter Rain Movement" of the mid-1940s with a blend of ideas from unscriptural philosophies such as the Manifest Sons of God, Dominion Mandate, Kingdom Now Theology, Word Faith Movement, Shepherding Movement, Restorationism and others.

Even though the Kansas City Fellowship is just a rehash of failed doctrines, some elements of movements tried and failed, it still can be a threat to the church. First, today's church does not learn well from the past. Add to this the impact and influence of superstar Christianity propagated by most of what is called the electronic church. KCF's threat is increased further by the fact that its exponents have had decades to perfect its promotion and tailor answers to critics.

An Important Historical Perspective

By the mid-1940s, much of the fervor of the Pentecostal revivals of the early 1900s was waning. As churches became established and worship patterns standardized, many in this movement felt that the initial fire of revival had been lost. Committed Pentecostals began to look for God to rekindle that fire. It was generally believed that God would send another revival to restore the church to the supernatural power it possessed in the book of Acts. Historian David Harrell writes:

"And so, the times were ripe. Pentecostalism had become affluent enough to support mass evangelism. It had become tolerant enough to overlook doctrinal differences. Convictions were still deep enough that there was a longing for revival. As the older generation thrilled to the memories of the miracle ministries of the 1920s, the young yearned for a new rain of miracles." [1]

Sermons based on Isaiah 43:18-19 became prevalent: " Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" [NIV]

It was during this time of great expectancy that the healing revivals began. Those later spawned the Latter Rain Movement and subsequent Charismatic Movement.

The first leader of the healing revival to emerge was a humble Indiana backwoods preacher named William Marrion Branham. Even though Branham became doctrinally a heretic, his supernatural abilities made him extremely popular in this miracle-hungry period. (See The Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4, Oct.-Dec., 1988, pp. 1, 8-9) It was his influence and other healing evangelists that came after him that set in motion the "theology" that would birth the long-sought-for new thing, The Latter Rain Movement. "In 1948 -- the very year that Israel became a nation -- another great deluge fell from heaven, a mighty revival then called the 'Latter Rain.' In this Restoration Revival God did a work which far transcended the work started in the Pentecostal outpouring of more than 40 years before. All nine gifts of the Spirit, the five-fold ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, spiritual praise and worship, and the end time revelation of God's purpose to manifest his sons, a glorious church, to bring in the kingdom of God, all of this and much more was restored among God's people." [2]

Of the beginnings of this move, William M. Menzies, in his "History of the Assemblies of God," wrote:

"In 1947, George Hatwin and Percy Hunt launched an independent Bible School in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. ... They evolved a teaching that emphasized extreme congregationalism with local authority committed to restored order of apostles, who, through receiving a special dispensation derived from the laying on of hands, could in turn dispense a variety of spiritual gifts. Their extravagant claims and their belligerent attack on existing Pentecostal groups brought open conflict. Many sincere Christians followed the new group which boasted of being a fresh revival displacing the 'apostatized Pentecostals.'" [3]

Among the primary teachings of this new thing of God that radiated out of Canada and swept through the healing revival then taking place in the United States were:

1) The restoration of the imparting of spiritual gifts through the laying on of hands.

2) The restoration of "the fivefold ministry" as enumerated in Ephesians 4:11, with particular emphasis on the offices of apostle and prophet. (Branham was widely touted as the prophet Elijah reborn).

3) The revelation of the dominion mandate (extrapolated from Genesis 1:26-29) and,

4) The revelation of the manifestation of the sons of God (extrapolated from Romans 8:19).

These doctrines caused division in traditional Pentecostal churches. They led to the condemnation of the "The New Order of the Latter Rain" by the Assemblies of God in their general council in 1949. [4] After this action, many Assembly ministers resigned or were excommunicated for their involvement and formed independent Latter Rain churches. Most of these churches were small. Their evolving doctrines became increasingly heretical and, many degenerated into clearly definable cults (Church of the Living Word, The Body, House of Prayer, etc.).

By the mid-1950s, both the healing and Latter Rain revivals had diminished considerably. Scandals and charges of false doctrine were rife. Some of the leading healing evangelists left the ministry, while others went into relative obscurity. [5] One of the latter was a protege of Branham named Paul Cain. While the momentum of these movements diminished, their influence did not. The writings and teachings of such Latter Rain advocates as John Robert Stephens, Bill Britton, Franklin Hall, Branham, George Warnock, the Hatwin brothers, Sam Fife, Myrtle and James Beall and others were to have widespread influence on the Charismatic Revivals of the 1960s and 1970s. Though somewhat modified, the basic Latter Rain doctrines enumerated above have resurfaced repeatedly in the Charismatic milieu.

As a young minister coming up through the ranks of various Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, I was repeatedly combating such Latter Rain tenets as: the authoritarianism (shepherding) of Christian Growth Ministries and the dominionism/restorationism/ manifest sons of Godism of Earl Paulk, Bill Hammon, Bill Britton, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Bob Weiner and others. It was this growing wave of mysticism that led this writer to eventually disassociate from the Charismatic movement and seek to expose these unscriptural doctrines.

Now, a new momentum is building. The prime movers of this new work are a consortium of ministers working under the umbrella of an organization called Grace Ministries. This group was formed by the leaders of KCF in 1986 and has been growing steadily ever since.

Kansas City Fellowship Is Born

Consistent with his belief in personal predictive prophecy, KCF was born in the mind of its senior pastor, Mike Bickle, in September 1982, when, Bickle says, God spoke to him in Cairo, Egypt.

"I am inviting you to raise up a work that will touch the ends of the earth. I have invited many people to do this thing, and many people have said yes, but very few have done my will." [6]

Back in his home city of St. Louis, Mo., Bickle was further instructed that the work was to be based in Kansas City. In November 1982, that move was made. [7]

Prior to that move, Bickle had been asking for the Lord's permission to start a nightly corporate prayer meeting. God evidently withheld that permission until the move to Kansas City had been accomplished. Once there, it is reported that the Lord spoke clearly:

"'Now, I'm going to release the grace to pray every night.' The 15 or so people who came with Mike from St. Louis began to pray corporately each evening from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., asking the Lord to pour out His Spirit on the City". It was from this small group that the Fellowship was born. [8]

KCF began to grow steadily. In 1986, Bickle and the other leaders of the fellowship formed a corollary ministry called Grace Ministries. This is a "team of men committed to seeing the church restored to the glory described in God's Word ... This team is comprised [sic] of mature and proven men with apostolic and prophetic ministries in addition to including evangelists, pastors, and teachers." [9] According to the article cited above, there are seven aspects to the overall vision of Grace ministries:

1) Apostolic teams - teams dedicated to planting churches.

2) City churches - Grace teaches the doctrine of localism; "The New Testament pattern is for there to be one church in a city with many congregations yet with one unified eldership governing it." [10]

3) The House of Prayer - a 24 hour a day center for intercessory prayer in Kansas City.

4) The Joseph Company - "Our primary goal for the Joseph Company is to help care for and feed the poor, especially in third world countries." [11]

5) The Israel Mandate - this ministry aims to help in the great last-days evangelical harvest among ethnic Jews. [12]

6) Ministry Training Center - a center to equip both full-time and lay leaders in areas of ministry. [13]

7) Shiloh Ministries - this is a term used to designate the prophetic ministry that GM is offering to the church at large. "Ultimately, Shiloh will include a piece of property where a number of prophetically gifted ministries will live together as they share revelation with one another releasing a 'roundtable of the prophets' effect. This will release a greater prophetic understanding of God's purposes as they submit one to another." [14]

The list of those associated with Grace Ministries and Kansas City Fellowship is continually growing. Bickle is the team leader. Others that hold leadership positions are: David Parker, Noel Alexander, Michael Sullivant, and Don Steadman.

Other teaching and prophetic ministers who travel extensively are: Francis Frangipane, John Paul Jackson, Kevin Porsche, Reuven Doron, Charles Lynn, Larry Randolph, David Ravenhill, Jim Goll and Harry Schroeder. One East Coast minister who is heavily involved with Grace Ministries is Rick Joyner of Morning Star Ministries in North Carolina.

KCF, Doctrine, and the Word of God

Those involved in this resurgence of the Latter Rain Movement have had years to hand-tool answers to critics. Those who hold to this mystical mindset have studied the mistakes made by and criticisms made of the early adherents of the movement. They now seek to be more moderate in their attempts to propagate their theology. Thus, the attacks on historic biblical doctrine are more subtle than those of five decades ago. Those attacks, however, are still there and are still dangerous.

KCF uses a back-door approach to promoting its message.

Historically, godly men illumined by the Holy Spirit studied the Bible inductively, discovered what it taught on a particular truth, and proclaimed that truth as doctrine.

KCF, on the other hand, first establishes a person or persons in a position of apostolic or prophetic authority. These men are touted as receiving direct revelation from God.

KCF says "The end time ministries also must have this, the ability to impart revelation of Jesus to the body." [15]

Then the prophets proclaim messages designed to cast doubt on the ability of believers to understand doctrine they have been taught. This line of authority also subtly plays down Scripture's importance.

KCF and Grace Ministries want to be known as people of the Bible. The Grace Ministries Statement of Faith declares:

"We believe that these 66 books are fully inspired, accurate, and reliable with regard to all matters of faith and conduct as they were originally written. We hold to the Biblical Scriptures as the plumbline for all that we do and believe." [16]

KCF no doubt is sincere in the above statement. However, its interpretation of Scripture is most often viewed through the spectacles of apostolic and prophetic authority. The dreams and visions of the two main prophets of the movement (Paul Cain and Bob Jones) and others who give prophecies, always set the agenda for KCF. Scripture is then marshaled to buttress these revelations. Also, when the Bible contradicts KCF teaching, it is dismissed or reinterpreted according to the authority line. For example:

Deuteronomy 18:20 gives a strict penalty for prophets who speak in the name of the Lord, but whose prophecy does not come to pass, or if they speak in the name of other gods.

"But if a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." [NIV] Verse 22 says " can know when a prophet speaks presumptuously for what he has said will not come to pass."

However, Joyner writes:

"One of the greatest hazards affecting maturing prophets is the erroneous interpretation of the Old Testament exhortation that if a prophet ever predicted something which did not come to pass he was no longer to be considered a true prophet (see Deut. 18:20- 22). The warning was that if this happened, the prophet had been presumptuous and the people were not to fear him. If one pre- dicts something in the name of the Lord and it does not come to pass, he probably has spoken presumptuously and needs to be repented of, but that does not make him a false prophet. No one could step out in the faith required to walk in his calling if he knew that a single mistake would ruin him for life." (emphasis added) [17]

Not only does Joyner contradict Scripture, but writes in the same article that prophets who are less than 100 percent accurate are a blessing from God to the church! "Bob (Jones) was told that the general level of prophetic revelation in the church was about 65% accurate at this time. Some are only about 10% accurate, a very few of the most mature prophets are approaching 85% to 95% accuracy. Prophecy is increasing in purity, but there is still a long way to go for those who walk in this ministry. This is actually grace for the church now, because 100% accuracy in this ministry will bring a level of accountability to the church which she is too immature to bear at this time; it would result in too many 'Ananias and Sapphiras.' That so many the (sic) prophetic ministries are still missing so much is also meant to work humility and wisdom in them so that they will be able to handle the authority and power coming in the near future." [18]

The repercussion of this type of thinking is that the words of those in the authority line become more important than Scripture.

It then becomes necessary to have the authority line to understand what the Bible is really teaching, and what the Lord is doing in these "end times."

For example, it seems that God is going to be working in the church through the realm of the supernatural to a degree that He has never done before. And there's no use trying to evaluate events using the Bible, because this is going to be something totally new! Bickle writes:

"There is a dimension that is coming, and now is, that we have no frame of reference for and most of us think that we do."

"... and they (apostles, prophets) do things that you have no frame of reference for understanding because, believe me, what's going to be coming down in the next twenty years you and I have no frame of reference for understanding. It is going to be so unusual you are not going to be able to look at the word for every manifestation and find one there because the Spirit of the Lord has so many manifestations that you and I know nothing about."[19] So, God is going to be dealing with His Church outside of His Word to us. Statements of faith notwithstanding, this sets the stage for extrabiblical revelation. Without the ability to appeal to the Bible's authority, the stage is also set for the institution of false doctrine.

Not only is a low view of Scripture taken, but also a low view of believers' ability to understand what He has revealed to us in His word. Bickle continues:

"At this point in time, because of the pride of the church (just like the scribes and the Pharisees) we have such a sense that we understand....when we are not even the beginning of novices." We have "...the church with absolutely no insight, judging the works of God with no understanding and missing out on the works of God." "If the spirit of fear is given enough witness, the Spirit of God will leave completely. ... The reasoning and the debate of the western world in all of their presupposed knowledge of what God does and doesn't do is its going to be a miracle for the Lord to use someone that's been in the Kingdom over five years. ...Its no accident that throughout the visitations of history it was always a few (in the church) and the multitudes were all the new converts because the majority of the church could not swallow the new thing coming, because they were wise in their own understanding. Great heroes of the church were ostracized by the church. The church needs an abandonment that says we really don't know anything about the realm of the spirit. We must have lowliness of mind." [20]

Evidently, this "lowliness of mind" spoken of means that we must be willing to throw out all we have learned of God up to now and put ourselves in the authority line to be in on this new move of God, the authentic Latter Rain.

KCF, The New Latter Rain

As did the Latter Rain adherents of the 1940s, so does KCF advocate the restoration to the Church what is called "the fivefold ministry" specified in Ephesians 4:11 as: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. While we have had evangelists, pastors, and teachers down through church history, KCF claims apostles and prophets have been minimized. Now they teach that God is restoring these two offices to prominence and bringing the other three up to His standards. Joyner writes:

"To be distinguished from the stumbling blocks, a great company of prophets, teachers, pastors and apostles will be raised up with the spirit of Phineas. ...Conferences of apostles, prophets, pastors, elders, etc. will be called and used greatly by the Lord, but without denominating and separating from the rest of the body." [21]

"In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul said the five ministries of verse 11 would function until the church was filled with the knowledge of the Son of God." [22]

What Bickle means by "filled with the knowledge of the Son of God" is a perfected church, a church without "spot or wrinkle. This many-membered corporate body (corporate man) will take dominion over (conquer) the Earth for ultimate presentation to Christ at his second coming. [23]

The beliefs generated by the above statements firmly establish KCF's tie to the Latter Rain doctrine of Dominionism. This should not be confused with the dominionism of the Christian Reconstruction groups. While there are similarities between the two views, there are also significant differences. Implicit in the Latter Rain version of dominionism is the belief in the manifestation of the sons of God

The leading prophetic luminary of KCF, Paul Cain is unashamedly linked with the Latter Rain Movement: "Paul is now 60 years old and has been a part of the Latter Rain Movement, the Healing Revival and the Charismatic Movement." [24] The other members of KCF's leadership agree with Latter Rain precepts.

While some of these precepts are presented in updated terminology and packaged for contemporary audiences, the doctrines are the same.

The Manifestation Scenario

One of the Latter Rain Movement's more heretical legacies is the doctrine of the Manifest Sons (MSOG). This doctrine blurs the person and work of Jesus Christ and the mission of the church. The doctrine can be summarized in this manner:

As human history winds down, God will restore the offices of apostles and prophets to a weak and suffering church. Through these offices the church will be called to repentance and divine revelations given with the agenda for the end time corporate body.

As God begins to restore the church to its true position of power (signs, wonders, and miracles), many will leave their denominational affiliations. (Denominations are almost always associated with Babylon, and are bastions of false doctrine) Once out of these groups and under the authority of apostolic ministries, believers will begin to be perfected. They will throw off the confusion of Babylon and will become mature in the Lord. As maturity increases so will unity in the Body. The ultimate outcome will be a generation of believers who have matured into the full stature of Christ.

Then the sons of God will be fully manifested on the Earth. At this time widespread spiritual warfare will erupt with the sons of God battling Satan and his demons. As Joel's Army defeats the legions of Hell in battle after battle, the unbelieving nations of the world will also be conquered. Once the Earth has been subdued, then God will allow Jesus (who has been held in the heavens awaiting the outcome of the war) to return and receive the Kingdom that has been won for him by this "Manchild Company."

The doctrine teaches that these Sons will be equal to Jesus Christ in every way. They will be immortal, sinless, perfected sons who have partaken of the divine nature. They have every right to be called gods, and there are. (there is a general reluctance to use the capital "G", but the impact is the same).

One of the more popular books among Manifest Sons advocates is Bill Britton's Jesus The Pattern Son. In it Britton writes that Jesus was the "Firstfruits among many brethren" and the pattern for many more "sons" to come. In other words, what Jesus was by birth (the Son of God) all believers can become by adoption (sons of God). The identification is total with Manifest Sons. Jesus the Pattern Son was the Anointed One, the Christ. This special group of overcomers, the Manchild Company, are also anointed ones, they are also Christ!

KCF and Manifest Sons

Many of the old line Manifest Sons groups teach that the manifestation has already taken place. KCF, however, teaches that this is yet to come. Cain writes:

"Now I know when that which is perfect is come, that which is imperfect must be done away. But, anyone knows that which is perfect is not come. And we don't have the full revelation, we haven't grown up in the stature of Christ as we should. And there is no manifestation on a wholesale basis of the Sons of God. And, I'm not afraid to mention that even though I get shot down everywhere I go every time I mention the manifestation of the Sons of God. And I'm not afraid to mention any biblical, scriptural terminology." [25]

Cain's criticism of the MS Doctrine that has been making the rounds in Charismatic circles for years is not that it is unscriptural. It is just that believers have been trying to enter into sonship before God's appointed time. [26]

Further direction is given by KCF's other prophetic authority, Bob Jones,

"The last day church is being birthed now out of the old church, and the old leadership is coming to an end and the new young leadership is being raised up to reign over an end time church that will bring forth the Bride. Your children (my bank account) my grandchildren, will be the Bride. You've got to have the church first in the right foundation. That's what he (Jesus) said. 'Come back and touch those that will be the right foundation'." [27]

Known even among members of KCF for his strange visions (though still not doubted), Jones gives this scenario for the preparation of the coming manifestation.

"I went and I seen the Lord, and it was like he was looking at little yellow things; little round yellow things like a Spirit of God Itself. And there were billions of them. And it was like Him and all the angels were looking through these and every once in awhile they'd say, 'Hey, here's an end time one; get it down here on the end. Here's another good one!'

I said, 'What are you doing?'

He said, 'Oh, we're collecting those who are foreknown and predestinated for the end times, for you see, they'll be the best of all the seed that's ever been. And we're looking through the seeds and they'll be your grandkids. This will be the end generation that is foreknown and predestinated to inherit all things. And these will be like grandchildren to you -- even those that you minister to won't be this generation; their grandchildren will be.

You are to write into their minds as they write into the children's minds. You're to bring them to a place to allow My Spirit to rule in their life where they can begin to set the church on the proper foundations, as they will. They'll birth the church, but their children will attain levels of the Holy Spirit that they will not.

Although their parents will reign over them and be the leaders of the last day church, their children will possess the Spirit without measure. For they are the best of all generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth. And the best of all generations are those elected seeds that will glorify Christ in the last days.

That's the purpose so that Jesus in the last days has the seeds that will glorify Him above any generation that has ever been upon the face of the earth. They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder that has ever been in the Bible, they'll move in it consistently. They'll move in the power that Christ did. Every sign and wonder and wonder that's ever been will be many times in the last days. They themselves will be that generation that's raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way.

And the church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them. So that the glorious church might be revealed in the last days because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a church that has reached the full maturity of the God-Man!" [28]

Please note that it is Jones who will "bring them to a place to allow My Spirit to rule in their life where they can begin to see the church on the proper foundations. ..." We again see the line of authority mentioned earlier.

Bickle tries to put a positive spin on these teachings on his tape, Glory and Dominion of Sonship, but doesn't quite pull it off.

Bickle begins by stating that he doesn't think "that there is anything higher than the revelation that what a Son of God is." And because this revelation is so lofty, the "religious" mindset will not understand it.

"The religious mind will always call this heresy. When the religious mind comes in contact with the revelation of what a Son of God is they will always say it is not right because it's too high."

After paralleling Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 with Psalm 8 and Genesis 1:26 to establish that men have total dominion over the Earth, Bickle starts building a case for elevating mankind. Bickle believes that the average Christian's view of man is so low that it offends God.

"But, through His Word, He has given us a revelation of what he intends us to be; Sons of God in the full sense of the word. And we begin to raise our understanding of what its all about".

Then comes a lengthy exposition of John 10:31-39 of how Jesus reveals to the religious community that it is permissible (based on Psalm 82:6) for men to call themselves gods. "God said that these people were to act as God. Now, you can get kind of off base and a lot of cults would use this passage and get off base in many many wrong ways. I don't think we're gods in any weird sense of the word, but God has created and redeemed men to be gods, small "g", only by this definition -- that nothing in creation was to be over you. Everything besides God Himself was to be under you and that alone would constitute man being a god".

Then Bickle explains what he means by not being gods in "any weird sense of the word",

"Now, don't be afraid, we don't worship gods like that. We're not equal to Jesus Christ. We're not deity. We're not worshiped. We have no authority to initiate the things that only God can initiate because He alone is the head of the body, Jesus Christ says."

However, after this qualification, Bickle returns to the terminology of Manifest Sons doctrine:

"My conviction is that one of the greatest transformations is when you begin to get the revelation that you are a Son of God. ... God intends us to be like gods, he intends us to be like the Son of God. ... God has conceived in His heart of a plan to make a race of men that would live like gods on the Earth. He has conceived in His heart to have Sons that would live like His Son, the Lord Jesus lived. ... That we were to be on earth the extension and manifestation of God's life in heaven."

After these statements he again tries to prepare his listeners for opposition,

"When a person comes up and declares what Sonship is about, the religious community comes up and says 'blasphemy!' That's what they did to Jesus."

Despite the disclaimer that the gods that certain believers are to become are in no way related to cultic concepts, Bickle clearly uses unscriptural terminology and logic to teach Manifest Sons doctrine. When you combine his statements with those of the two recognized prophetic voices of the movement, the "old wine" of the Latter Rain Manifest Sons of God teaching is unmistakable. [29]

KCF, City Churches, and Dominion Theology

The prophetic voices of KCF are promising the restoration of full spiritual power to the church. They have announced that we will see this new church come into perfection and total unity. It is to be "birthed" out of the one that now exists. As this new body matures and becomes more unified, there will be a redefinition of what true Christianity is. Bickle writes:

"I believe that God is going to allow us to see and to even partake in this restoration -- this is a major statement and I want you to pay attention closely -- to the restoration of the New Testament Standard... I believe that God is going to renovate the entire understanding of what Christianity is in the nations of the Earth. I believe that the way that 99% of us across the world as believers understand Christianity, in 20 years there will be a totally different understanding of what Christianity is from what it is right now. I believe the understanding of it, the standard of life and the expression of Christianity as we know it, I believe God is going to restore it and change it in the Earth in this generation." [30]

Bickle then explains that this mission is to be accomplished through the development of Apostolic City Churches. By apostolic he means: "churches in the full power of the Spirit of God." [31]

God, through mighty works of miracles, signs, and wonders, is going to use the city churches and the apostles and prophets to disciple the nations. KCF, of course, is going to be used of God to establish these.

"That is the will of God for this body of believers to establish anywhere from 20 to 30 or 40 (I have no idea the number, but its a large number) of city churches in the nations of the Earth to make impact on the rulers and kings and people of those nations right from this body of believers. ... I believe Jesus meant we shall disciple the nations. He meant it and He will not come back until it happens. ... Nations will be discipled by the fruit of the ministry that comes forth from this people here ... by people sitting in this room!" [32]

KCF maintains that their idea of City Churches is scriptural, "The New Testament pattern is for there to be one church in a city with many congregations yet one unified eldership governing it." [33] And since these City Churches will be established by "this body of believers," then it follows logically that the unified eldership will be centered around KCF's particular doctrine. In other words, to come into maturity, to come into unity, means to accept the line of authority that KCF has established!

Jones says:

"There has to be a bunch of full-time leaders joined and the lay leaders have got to be ready, and a lot of them are going to be released after that time of visitation. And they have to be unified; they have to have affection for one another; they have to be grounded in unity around the principles that God has given us, and we have to be in divine order with our place in God's divine order." [34]

And what will happen to those who do not wish to unify and come under this eldership? "Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will be so hardened that they will become opposers and resist God to the end." [35]

So, KCF teaches that God, through the restoration of apostolic and prophetic authority, is going to use KCF to establish city churches with unified elders. These City Churches are the frame- work that God will further use to bring a new definition of true Christianity. This work will grow, become more mature until it "come(s) to a place of the maturity that equals the stature of the fullness of Christ." [36] The restored, perfected city church ("the expression of the maturity of Jesus Christ in a given region." [37]) will then disciple the nations of the earth with the intention of rendering the kingdom of God on the Earth a fit presentation to a then returning Jesus Christ.

This is the classic Latter Rain version of the Dominion Mandate.

KCF, Cross-Pollinization, and Vineyard Ministries

KCF has what it calls a program of "Cross-pollinization" with like-minded ministries. The ministry team "agreed that God purposefully left our team deficient in many areas so we should need other parts of the Body of Christ. ... Every ministry in the Church needs other ministries." Because of this, "We regularly fellowship with ministry teams from a variety of backgrounds and denominations. We call this 'cross- pollination.'" [38]

While on the one hand this appears to be an innocent desire to benefit from the experience and knowledge of other ministries, some critics see this as just another way to infiltrate and gain control of existing churches.

According to Ernie Gruen, a local Kansas City pastor, KCF has demonstrated an agenda of absorbing existing congregations. "... this is where they began to prophesy that churches should close and be part of their ministry. They did it three times that I can document but actually more than that. Sermons were preached on how you know when to close a church. And then, they had a prophet along that said, 'You're to close your church down and all become part of KCF.'" [39]

Bickle answered the accusations made by Gruen in a letter dated Jan. 22, 1990: "After hearing your tape, I'm sure you do not understand our structure, the way several groups have joined us, nor the nature of our prophetic ministries." [40] However, Gruen's statement matches statements made above as well as a chronology of the beginning of Olathe Christian Fellowship (a branch of KCF) given in the Kansas City Fellowship Reports dated February and April 1987.

In January 1987 Bickle announced a "Sovereign Calling" that God had given to establish Olathe Christian Fellowship (OCF). At that meeting " Another priority was to review the history of how God called two churches in Olathe, Olathe Fellowship and Christ Community Fellowship (CCF) to die to enable a new work, Olathe Christian Fellowship, to be raised up." [41]

The pastors of these small churches came into association with Bickle in the early 1980s. By 1985, Larry Fry, pastor of CCF, and Wes Adams, pastor of OF, began to hear God saying that they should merge their respective churches but it did not happen. Then "In 1986, God sovereignly resurrected it and showed us both independently of one another, that God's way was for us to submit our two congregations to Mike Bickle in order to establish one new church. God confirmed this by strong prophetic words through John Paul Jackson and others". [42]

"September 14, 1986: Wes and Larry announce to their churches that they have been called to die as individual fellowships. They inform their churches that they will be submitting themselves to the leadership of Mike and the Church Planting Team for the purpose of beginning a new work in the city of Olathe." [43]

Due to its strong stance on supernatural signs and wonders, it should come as no surprise that KCF has "cross-pollinated" with the Vineyard Movement of John Wimber. Wimber came under the influence of Paul Cain in mid-1987 when Cain prophesied over problems that existed in the Vineyard Ministry. Then in December of that year Cain was invited to address the leadership of that movement in Anaheim, Calif.

"When asked if God might grant a sign to confirm that the message that he would bring this time was truly from heaven, Cain replied, 'The day I arrive, there will be an earthquake in your city, and the word of the Lord to you will be Jeremiah 33:8.' At 3:38 on the day Cain arrived, the earth shook in Anaheim. After that, he had Wimber's full attention." [44]

Not only has Wimber given Cain his full attention, he has given him an increasingly growing platform. "In addition to his fathering relationship to KCF, Paul has come into a deep friendship and working relationship with John Wimber. ... Paul has made a special commitment to traveling with John and to support the vision that God is currently unfolding to him." [45]

The question is, who is supporting whom? Which one is having the most influence over the other? The answer is evident:

"A year ago John (Wimber) started taking down the fence separating the Vineyard from the rest of the church. Last year John allowed two people who were not Vineyard people to speak at the Spiritual Warfare Conference (Cain and Bickle). This year there were only two Vineyard people speaking at the conference (John and Jack Deere)". [46]

It is also clear that Wimber has bought Cain's Latter Rain theology:

"I think that what God is doing is raising up a New Breed of leaders. And, I believe that He is inviting us in this room to participate in that New Breed."

"Now that's a term you've become familiar with this week. It's been prophesied by Paul Cain; and I think its a very important Concept."

"And, I believe the Church of Jesus Christ that we're part of -- the larger Body of Christ the world over -- has been weighed and judged in this generation. And that instead of learning from our predecessors from the Latter Day Rain Movement, from any number of movements of God that have occurred in this century, we have allowed the enemy to come in and detract and take away the passion of God and rob it out of our lives." [47]

Is the Wineskin Leaking?

The question of influence has become a very important one. According to Charisma and Christian Life Magazine [48], KCF has officially joined the association of Vineyard Churches.

"KCF pastor Mike Bickle says the move follows a one-year period during which the church and he were under John Wimber's oversight." [49]

This move comes at a time when KCF has come under increasing criticism from both the Charismatic and non-Charismatic communities. There have been charges of false doctrine, false prophecies, and even occultic practices.

"A litany of specific charges has been distributed by some Christians in the Kansas City area. ... Bickle said the matters on the list were addressed years ago, acknowledging that some mistakes were made in the way the prophetic words were ministered. But he denied the use of occultic practices". [50]

One has to ask at this point if KCF joined Vineyard to seek counsel from an established national ministry, or was it looking to legitimize its doctrines in a time of severe criticism? It appears that the latter is true;

"Wimber and a team of Vineyard pastors and seminarians have examined the teachings of KCF. They concluded that Jones has made some 'unwise, but not unbiblical' statements and needed to be disciplined, but that the practices of KCF are sound and Biblical." [51]

However, the article goes on: "Recently new charges were added.

It has been said that Bickle, Jones and KCF are not in line with orthodox Christianity. Bickle said he had submitted the entire process to Wimber, who would consider the new accusations." [52]

One would hope that serious and prayerful study would be given to all of the documentation for the "new accusations" before any pronouncement is given.

Finally, "By joining the Vineyard, KCF links up with a national authority network. They will report to regional and national Vineyard directors. But the Anaheim, California-based Vineyard allows its churches to operate autonomously in most other areas. KCF will change its name to Vineyard." [53]

It remains to be seen whether KCF (now Vineyard) will recant the heterodox doctrines of the Latter Rain Movement and repudiate the validity its "prophetic line of authority", or if it will carry the already controversial Vineyard Ministries into that line. As they say on the evening news, "Stay tuned folks, this story is just beginning to break!


  1. All Things Are Possible, David Edwin Harrell, Jr., Indiana University Press, (Bloomington, Ind.), 1975, pg. 20.
  2. The Battle of Armageddon, Part IV, J. Preston Eby, Kingdom Bible Studies, September 1976, pg. 10; quoted in Richard Michael Riss," The Latter Rain Movement of 1948 and the Mid-Twentieth Century Evangelical Awakening", pg. 197, April 1979.
  3. Anointed to Serve, The Story of the Assemblies of God, William W. Menzies, Springfield Mo., Gospel Publishing House, 1971, pg. 32.
  4. Riss, op cit., pg. 165.
  5. Harrell, op cit., pp. 99-116.
  6. The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries, Kansas City, Mo.: Grace Ministries, n.d., cassette tape on file.
  7. ibid.
  8. Intercessory Prayer: Kansas City Fellowship's Theology, History, and Practice, Noel Alexander, Grace City Report, Special Prophetic Edition, Kansas City, Mo., Fall 1989, pg. 17.
  9. Grace City Report, Fall 1989, pg. 9.
  10. 10. ibid.
  11. ibid., pg. 16.
  12. ibid.
  13. ibid.
  14. ibid.
  15. The True Prophetic Spirit: The Simplicity and Purity of Devotion to Jesus; Mike Bickle, Grace City Report, op cit., pg. 1.
  16. Grace Ministries Statement of Faith, n.d., pg. 1.
  17. The Prophetic Ministry, The Morning Star Prophetic Newsletter, Rick Joyner, n.d., Vol 3, No. 2, pg. 2.
  18. ibid, pg. 4.
  19. Divine Appointment (Introduction), Mike Bickle, 3/29/89, cassette tape.
  20. ibid.
  21. A Vision of the Harvest, Rick Joyner, Grace City Report, op cit., pg. 3.
  22. True Prophetic Spirit, op cit., pg. 1.
  23. Overview of God's End Time Purpose, Mike Bickle, cassette tape, 10/7/84, cassette tape on file.
  24. Paul Cain: A Personal Profile, Grace City Report, op cit., pg. 2.
  25. The New Breed, Paul Cain, n.d., cassette tape.
  26. ibid.
  27. Visions and Revelations, Bob Jones 1988, cassette tape. Quoted in Latter Day Prophets, Media Spotlight Special Report, Albert Dager, n.d., pg 9.
  28. ibid, Dager, pg. 9-10.
  29. Glory and Dominion of Sonship, Part 2, Mike Bickle, cassette tape.
  30. Overview of Corporate Long Term Vision, Mike Bickle, 1/5/86, cassette tape.
  31. ibid.
  32. ibid.
  33. What Is Grace Ministries?, Michael Sullivant, Grace City Report, op cit., pg. 9.
  34. Dager, op cit., pg. 11.
  35. Vision of the Harvest, op cit., pg. 3.
  36. Overview of Corporate Long Term Vision, op cit.
  37. ibid.
  38. Maturing Through Cross-Pollinization, Mike Bickle, Grace City Report, op cit., pg. 18.
  39. Kansas City Fellowship, Earnest Gruen, Full Faith Church of Love, Jan. 1990 Sermon, cassette tape.
  40. Letter on file.
  41. Kansas City Fellowship Report, A Monthly Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 6, February 1987, pg. 1.
  42. ibid, pg. 3.
  43. Kansas City Fellowship Report, A Monthly Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 8, April 1987, pg. 3.
  44. "How Is God Speaking Today?", Paul Thigpen, Charisma and Christian Life magazine, Sept. 1989, pg. 50.
  45. Paul Cain: A Personal Profile, op cit., pg. 16.
  46. "Holiness Unto the Lord," Rick Joyner, The Morning Star Newsletter, Pineville, N.C., Vol. III, No. 2, March/April 1990, pg. 16.
  47. Unpacking Your Bags, John Wimber, n.d., cassette tape. Quoted in Dager, op cit., pg. 12.
  48. July 1990, pg. 34.
  49. ibid.
  50. ibid.
  51. ibid.
  52. 52. ibid.
  53. 53. ibid.

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