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Accusers of the Brethren (Part Two)

Debra Bouey examines unjust accusations against those who stand for biblical truth.

Of course, it's Jones and Joyner who determine, during the course of this peculiar document, in just what manner the Holy Spirit is allegedly going to move and who is or isn't receiving their brand of "the love of the truth." Those who don't agree with them are allegedly to be "marked" by "strong delusion and confusion." This is yet another of many "prophetic" threats of God's impending wrath directed toward anyone who opposes them.Don Nori of Destiny Image writes:

"It is amazing that when a portal is finally discovered, a portal that opens eternity in an enormous flood of God's true are quick to condemn, criticize, and accuse. It is even more amazing that most criticism comes from folks who have never experienced revival in the settings that they are repudiating....Finally, jealousy is the intruder in the heart that keeps many criticizing revival."[7]

The use of Nori's strange term "portal" in reference to "God's true Presence" aside for the moment, we see that he believes it is impossible to fairly evaluate a movement without having "experienced" it personally. I have never personally "experienced" arsenic, but I understand that arsenic, ingested in sufficient quantities, will kill me. Therefore, I do not need to "experience" arsenic firsthand to understand its inherent danger. I have never been to Salt Lake City to "experience" Mormonism firsthand either, but I do understand that the foundational tenets of Mormonism are grievously flawed and erroneous to the point of being "another gospel" which bears no resemblance to the Gospel truth of Scripture. Nori simply makes a faulty argument when he chastises "critics" for opposing the movement because they haven't "experienced" it for themselves. Furthermore, he presumptuously informs us those who do take Scriptural issue with the movement are motivated by jealousy.These kinds of unwarranted, flawed arguments are becoming all too frequent today, as we see from yet another Don Nori quote:

"The New York Times, the standard in the secular American media, recently published a front-page story proclaiming that the revival at Brownsville and other places is just what America needs. Now, since The New York Times sets the standard for the secular press, no other secular media will oppose this point of view. They may take different angles and talk about the revival from slightly different perspectives, but all will report the same basic fact: The revival is good for America. It seems that the secular media is more willing to see God do the miraculous than our religious brethren. Could it be that these brethren reject fruit-proof because there is no confirming fruit-proof in their own ministries? I wonder."[8]

Has the Body of Christ sunk to having the secular media validate or invalidate the things of God? Are we so anxious to validate a movement by any means that we think it's a good thing when the secular media endorses it and thinks its "good for America"? Does this make sense in light of the fact that the unbelieving, natural mind is not even able to comprehend spiritual things, the things of God, and that our Lord said during His incarnation that the unbelieving world would hate His people just as it had hated Him?Nori implies that critics reject the movement at BAG out of jealousy because, as he alleges, "there is no confirming fruit-proof in their own ministries." Denigrating allegations such as this are all too common today and go hand in hand with contentions such as BAG's Dr. Michael L. Brown's comment that some critics are "ministry nobodies" in their own "home cities and countries."[9] The condescension and deprecation inherent in such statements is regrettably all too evident.

"Something is seriously wrong here. Jesus said that we will know His disciples by their fruit (see Jn. 15:8; Mt. 7:16,20)-not by their family lineage, their proficiency in reading Hebrew or Greek, or their ability to recite the Scriptures. Fruit-proof is the criteria by which the activity of God is to be judged.... Fruit-proof still stands as the litmus test by which we are to judge the authenticity of God's moving on earth. Yet many still try to disprove these things by 'searching the Scriptures' to see if they match their pre-set theology or their narrow understanding of how God is to work. Jesus did not argue with John's disciples. He simply said, 'Go tell John what you have seen and heard.'"Who are we then, to so judge the fruit of God's moving in our midst that we miss the life contained in His presence and power? Jesus' final words to John were, "And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me" (Lk. 7:23). We stumble when we try to fit the move of God into our old traditions and expectations. This was the response of the scribes and Pharisees, who attempted to use the Scriptures to prove that Jesus wasn't the Christ. In His reply, Jesus pointed them beyond the letter of the Scriptures to Himself as its fulfillment: 'You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life' (Jn. 5:39-40). God is doing the same thing today....

"Life is not as complicated as some people would try to make it. It becomes complex only when we try to deny the moving of God in the earth because it doesn't match our presumptions of what God can and cannot do and of how He will and will not act. The true measuring stick of God's presence is fruit-proof that matches the fruit of His Spirit. If the fruit you see and hear matches the fruit of God's life, then run to embrace it. If it doesn't, then beware lest you fall into the folly of those who deny the presence and the power of the living God."[10]

"Fruit-proof is the criteria by which the activity of God is to be judged...Fruit-proof still stands as the litmus test by which we are to judge the authenticity of God's moving on earth."??? I'll say something is "seriously wrong here", indeed, terribly wrong. Nori has coined the phrase, "fruit-proof", which is nothing more than the appalling subrogation of Scripture with experience. It certainly appears Nori is advocating the rejection of Scripture as the absolute, final authority against which all matters of faith and practice are to be measured. Nori himself has supplanted the written Word of God with experientialism, simultaneously equating those who refuse to do likewise with the Scribes and Pharisees, while also accusing them [the "critics"] of denying the presence and power of God.However, perhaps the most direct, specific, ignoble threat incident occurred when, on April 6, 1997, BAG pastor John Kilpatrick issued an alleged imprecatory prophecy, claiming the Holy Spirit would bring Christian Research Institute [CRI] and its president, Hank Hanegraaff, down within 90 days. Seventy-two days later, Kilpatrick apologized to CRI and Hanegraaff for the incident, admitting that he had spoken not in God's stead, directly on God's behalf but, rather, out of the anger of his own heart.[11] Even though Kilpatrick did apologize later, this gives us some idea of just how far some of these leaders have a proclivity to go in striking out at outspoken critics of the movement. And I'd say issuing imprecatory, false "God's gonna get you" type "prophecies" against those with whom one strongly disagrees is going very far indeed.Steve Hill, current BAG evangelist, even went so far as to call anyone who resists the BAG movement a "God mocker."[12] In fact, Hill has written a book entitled "The God Mockers." I urge you to obtain chapter one of the book (see endnote) and to thoroughly read and carefully evaluate it for yourself. All of the following quotes have been taken from throughout that particular chapter:[13]

"Anytime you analyze something and quickly come to the conclusion that it can't be God, be careful. You are not mocking that person you're dealing with Almighty God"...."The Scriptures picture mockers as those who oppose God"...."God mockers...don't realize that they aren't just mocking a person they are mocking the living Christ in that person! That is a dangerous place to live, and an even more dangerous place to die. What do you think when people say they've been set free from bondage? Do you say, 'I wonder how long that will last?' These comments mock the power of the Blood and the cross! You might as well look up at Jesus and taunt Him with the words, 'It will never last.' God mockers scoff and hold in contempt everything they 'don't approve of'. The second mark of a God mocker is a fear of confrontation and change. They are so stuck in religious tradition that they are closed to new revelation....How anyone can come into a revival meeting in Brownsville and fail to feel Jesus is beyond me! I can't imagine it.""Your rejection of the Spirit's work makes a mockery of the things of God. Right now across America, groups of pastors and church denominational leaders are openly mocking the move of God across the nation! If you haven't noticed, God mockers tend to hang out with other God mockers. They not only hang out with their own kind, but they will even feed on one another like spiritual carnivores. Once they find a likely body for prey, they will happily gather in circles like buzzards to eat it. These God mockers are writing 'position papers' about external physical manifestations while totally ignoring the deeper work of God that is saving hundreds of thousands of souls and permanently changing lives. They pompously declare, 'Well, that isn't God,' and sign declarations of mockery for 'distribution to the brethren' for their 'education' (the Bible calls this sowing discord), while many of their church congregations continue to dwindle year after year."

"God mockers have much to fear. God will recall every curse uttered against His revival. He will replay every blasphemy whispered...He will remember every word spoken against the weary pastors...To your shock and dismay, He will say in that day, 'You were mocking Me! Yes, it was Me all along"...."God mockers have disturbed and confused this country"...."We normally never give the time of day to critics or accusers....The Bible says, 'Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm' (Ps. 105:15). That is a deadly warning to every God mocker on this planet"...."Be careful, God mocker. Do you know who you are messing with?....You are messing with God Almighty. When He moves, you had better back off."

We see Hill directs a number of allegations at those who oppose the movement at BAG:

  1. We are mocking Almighty God.We are opposing God.We are mocking the blood and power of the Cross.We are taunting Christ.We fear confrontation and change.We are stuck in religious tradition.Those who have attended BAG and still come away with Scriptural concerns in opposition to it have failed to "feel" Jesus. (What does it mean, I wonder, to "feel Jesus"?)We reject the Spirit's work.We make a mockery of the things of God.We hang out with other "God mockers" and feed on one another like spiritual carnivores.We happily gather like a bunch of buzzards moving in for the kill.We ignore the deeper work of God.We sign "declarations of mockery" and disseminate them amongst the brethren, sowing strife and discord all along the way.Our own congregations are dwindling away.We have much to fear.The movement at BAG is [according to Hill] God's revival and we are cursing it. We are blasphemers.We are disturbing and confusing the entire country.We are "touching" the "Lord's anointed." (I want to know who said these men are the "Lord's anointed"? Moreover, the verse to which Hill alludes dealt with David's not literally killing Saul when he had the opportunity and has nothing whatsoever to do with leaders in the context in which Hill is attempting to apply it. It is simply a proof-text, and one which has been frequently used by those who "criticize the critics", obviously intended to manipulate, intimidate, instill fear of God's forthcoming wrath and retribution and coerce those who have grave Biblical concerns about the movement at BAG into silence.)We are messing with God.
  2. We better back off.

I want to especially focus at some length on two critical points Hill raises in the chapter:1. "They [the God Mockers/critics] are so stuck in religious tradition that they are closed to new revelation."What does this mean? The Apostle Paul himself, under Divine inspiration, tells us that we are not to go beyond what is written in God's Word and John reinforces it in his second Epistle as well:Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. [1 Corinthians 4:6]

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law. [Deuteronomy 29:29]

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. [2 John 1:9]We may be absolutely certain we have found the "teaching of Christ" nowhere but in Scripture. After all, if we do not acknowledge and concede an unchanging, infallible record of the teachings of Christ, to which we are to neither add anything nor take anything from, by which we as Christians are to live, how are we to know with reassurance and certainty what those teachings are and that we are abiding in them?Addressing the issue, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, adjunct professor at Chafer Theological Seminary and founder and co-director of Ariel Ministries, which ministers to Jewish people across the globe, writes:

"The thing you find Scripture emphasizing is that the final authority must be the Scriptures, the written Word of God, and not anyone's experience. Certainly, the Apostles could have related many of their experiences with Jesus in trying to defend their preaching about Jesus. One thing the Book of Acts keeps reemphasizing is that Paul, Silas and the others always made their final authority the Word of God and not their own experiences, as incredible as those experiences were by God's grace."[14]

Dr. Fruchtenbaum continues:

"The Bible itself gives us a major admonition by which we must judge all that claims to be of the Lord: the written Word of should be emphasized [referring to 1 Corinthians 4:6] that Paul says this to a church that had a strong tendency to move towards the sensational and the experiential. Chapters 12-14 make it clear that the Corinthian Church was by far the most Pentecostal/Charismatic of any church we have in the New Testament. They certainly emphasized the gifts of the Spirit in a way we do not read about in the other epistles to other churches. The focus on the experiential showed that they were not spiritual but carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Paul must especially admonish a church of this nature 'not to go beyond the things which are written.' That which is written, of course, is the Holy Scriptures. For any new manifestation or phenomenon, they must go back and test it by the Word of God....something that goes beyond that which is written...must be rejected out of hand."One does not need to take a plane 'experience' whether or not something is of God. It is sufficient to know that it is not in Scripture: they have gone beyond that which is written and, therefore, it is already evidence that these things are not of God. And what happens to those who go beyond that which is written? Paul declares that they become 'puffed up for the one against the other.' They develop a spiritual pride that is evident when they go around claiming to have a greater measure of the Holy Spirit than other believers. As a result, they divide all believers into two categories: those who have 'it,' and those who do not. I guess I am one who does not have 'it.' [referring to the Toronto movement] For that, I am glad, because the 'it' is not found in Scripture. After observing and talking with so many who claim to have 'it,' I have not been provoked to jealousy to desire it in any way. I am quite content with the spirituality described in Scripture-striving to attain it, using the Word and nothing else.."..Paul, then, issues a warning that as time goes on there will be more and more false teachers, who are truly imposters and will go around deceiving others, many of whom will be deceived themselves (2 Tim. 3:13). They may well believe that they are 'God's anointed' and keep repeating it to their critics, but the fact remains that they have become deceived themselves and, therefore, proceed to deceive others as well.

"So what is it that will protect Timothy from being deceived by false teachers? Paul answers that question in 3:14-17. He encourages Timothy to continue in what he has learned (3:14) and he has been trained from childhood in 'the sacred writings' (3:15). Notice that we see the same emphasis found in 1 Corinthians 4:6 here: the written Word of God, 'the sacred writings'. There will be two things that will keep Timothy from being deceived: his knowledge of the sacred writings, and his continuing to 'abide' in the sacred writings."[15]