Tuesday, September 9, 2008



Continuing last article’s quest the following are some of the ways to spot today's “new mystic” false prophets whose delusions and deceptions are often just continuations of American Branhamism camouflaged and re-packaged.


Arguably in special situations some people, especially prophets, should and do make them, but decrees can’t be parroted, rendered commonplace or made into an industry. Patricia King and others have written, recorded CDs and given conferences on a theme which risks finishing little better than witchcraft because, as in magic where one binds the powers to do something, one is virtually telling God what to do. The principle was appropriated by new mystics from another set of questionable guides holding to a prosperity gospel in the Word of Faith movement growing since the greedy eighties. Its main spokesperson is perhaps Kenneth Copeland (who has been under government examination for possible fraud). Copeland makes claims like: "As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word." Our Covenant with God [Fort Worth, TX: KCP Publications, 1987], 32
Todd Bentley followers are all for decreeing to God for angels, especially financial angels, to get collecting and delivering for them - which they are convinced they do.


The Third Heaven is where God dwells and St Paul records visiting it at any rate once - like the author of Revelation. In the charismatic worldview the third heaven is God’s. The second heaven is fallen and inhabited by the fallen angels who are a barrier between the third heaven and the first which is our own, also fallen, world which originally reflected the higher heavens.

Historically and biblically no prophets and apostles are on record as visiting heaven repeatedly, still less at will like the Merkabah mystics of Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism in the first and second centuries. That new mystics claim or expect frequent visit owes something to an extension of the empowerment doctrines embraced by Latter Rain and Manifest Sons of God (see below) which anticipate intimacy and frequency relative to God in our times. They have especially done this since 1982 when former Catholic, Mike Bickle of the heretical Kansas Street Prophets and chief promoter of the ultra-controversial Bob Jones (see previous article)famously alleged that Jesus told him 'I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation. Celestial travel in our times as encouraged by Bentley’s The Reality of the Supernatural World (2008) or Shawn Bolz’s The Throne Room Company (2004) is also helped along (as for Merkabah mystics) with recourse to certain practices like guided visualizations employed at conferences by the likes of Patricia King and Bob Jones. These emphasize seeing and imaging the Throne Room.

A charismatic best-seller is Choo Thomas’s Heaven is So Real (2003). Choo has been to heaven at least 17 times in the course of which Jesus fished a fish out of the river of life and cooked her the best fish she’d ever tasted. As if! As in much else that Choo claims, one sees the heretical imagination at work in the idea that anything could die in heaven – a vision of Seven Columbians I tried to assess here last year (a version of my Seeing John Lennon in Hell, April/May 07, got into N.Zealand’s Investigate Magazine) has it that when one of their number takes a fish from the waters of heaven they discover it cannot die because nothing dies in heaven. Though I have questioned elements of the Colombian vision also, which of the visions is more likely to be true? A lot of charismatic heavenly experiences are akin to the visions of Swedenborg that John Wesley found interesting but false. As we should too – at any rate in most instances and without careful testing.


Perhaps any real prophet, healer or mystic should do something of the sort - in biblical terms it could simply mean waiting upon and being imbued with the “weight” (kevod/glory) of divine presence. But the often hidden meaning of this talk betrays questionable links to various Latter Rain theories and its more extreme offshoot in Manifest Sons of God.

Latter Rain
began as a praise based movement linked to William Branham’s famous healing mission of the fifties and claimed a degree of power over events, especially in relation to a kind of prophecied Christian future (dispensationlist) that envisages only a decline from faith, an apostasy leading to the times and deceptions of the Antichrist. Instead, even if the Antichrist comes, there can be power prepared against it, even another and last Pentecost. But there are so many minor variations to Latter Rain and Manifest Sons that given charismatic subjectivism and avoidance of “theology” that any summary risks getting lost amid a welter of shifting terminology like “New Breed”, “Joel’s Army”, “Elijah Generation” etc which stand in for Manifest Sons. Some of this name swapping deliberately camouflages the resurgent trends of groups responding to the fact that the Assembies of God church and others have declared against LR and MS as heresies since the 1950s. The resulting confusion recalls Gnosticism in the early church and as with Gnosticism has meant that ideas enter church groups some of them subversive but others, if taken singly and understood a certain way by unsuspecting people, seem regular enough and empowering as for many the LR idea originally was and understandably - after all, why not a bit more intimacy or some healing miracles, everyone knows churches can lose "vision" and become merely formalistic?. So runs a common feeling among those on the fringes of the heretical/radical trends. Whatever…

In some versions of LR, especially as developed into MS doctrines that draw upon statements of Branham, glory bearers are those who instead of undergoing any apocalypse as traditionally understood are a "Signs and Wonders" empowered theocratic elite which is becoming Christ, or the Company of the Man Child of Rev 12 (understood to be Christ). They are destined to leave denominations behind (denominations being the real apocalyptic “mark of the beast” according to Branham) to rule the world, even to have immortality here and now. Manifest Sons accordingly prepare the way for Christ by either becoming him or so changing the world as to hasten a return he no longer initiates or else so becoming Christ there is no need for any Second Advent. There nonetheless usually seems to be a need for Manifest Sons to restore the “Five-Fold ministry” which includes "prophets" and "apostles" (the latter have traditionally been understood to be church founders who personally knew Christ) to rule over the developing “Body” of Christ. Whatever, radical MS are becoming a sort of completely equal Son of God able to perform just anything by saying it. Bill Hamon and Kenneth Hagin have propounded much nonsense in this line like "The believer is as much an incarnation of God as Jesus Christ" (Hagin, "The Incarnation," The Word of Faith, 12/80, cited in Christianity in Crisis, p. 175,397).

Such beliefs may not be apparent to all from popular statements like David Herzog’s Glory Invasion (2007) where they blend with more mainstream Christian and Pentecostal beliefs about the power engendered by praise, or the need to realize the miraculous powers of Christ, or to bring in an “end-time” harvest of souls by tearing down spiritual “strongholds”. But the ideological links are evident from Herzog’s friends in faith from A.A. Allen and the wildly eccentric gold dust lady, Ruth Ward Heflin, to tattoed Todd Bentley and the kind of extravagant (unsubstantiated) claims Herzog makes for his own work which also has a lot to do with Old Covenant attitudes to money he represents…..One of Herzog’s most sublimely silly tales of the glory (Glory Invasion pp 32,33) is how a woman at a church panicked she didn’t have enough sandwiches and water for a birthday party for him but of course with faith high and Herzog around the elements multiplied as people celebrated. But couldn’t his Arizona hostess have turned on a tap? And who is so teetotal they celebrate birthdays with water? A pity the water didn’t turn to wine or at least green tea “in the glory”!


The addiction to dreams allows imposters to claim almost anything as they often interpret what no one should usually even bother to consider (Ecc 5:3). Real prophetic dreams and visions are necessarily vivid and highly memorable and if a person is gifted like a Joseph or Daniel to receive them they likely wouldn’t need extensive manuals to interpret them! One of the worst books I’ve read in years is Jim Goll’s The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams and Open Heavens. It has almost nothing to teach that couldn’t fit into 4 pages of its 175 pages but Patricia King promotes it as unusually insightful and “anointed”. Some pages show only two or three lines of biblical verses. Others are filled out with check list questions like: “Have you ever heard God speak to you something before it happened, or do you know someone who has experienced this?”. Goll, who claims God mostly speaks to him through dreams (surely the most unreliable means to be hearing from God?) passes as a “seer” (one who sees images) rather than a prophet who only hears and declares. You can see him on the Net smoking the Holy Ghost between Crowder and Dunn enjoying what looks like a second adolescence, or perhaps light relief from what’s the horribly tragic situation of he and his wife both suffering from the cancer that prayers have not so far cured nor contacts with strangely named angels like Breakthrough and Awake Israel that Goll reports.

False prophets are also addicted to “mantles”, every healer and prophet and preacher’s mantles from Elijah’s to Branham’s to give you and them power for this and that. They seem to dream, and desire “mantles” - everywhere. Steven Brooks (see www.stevenbrooks.org) who, new age style, seems to think Christians can "work with angels" has had visions of taking "mantles" from a pile of colourful clothes in the second heaven (in effect a hell zone!) when the demons are off-guard because good angels intervene. His "mantle" has the form of a blue tee-shirt. He's so excited because a saint of 1400 years ago had this same mantle. He won't tell you his name but if you want a mantle yourself remember to live pure and don't forget your tithes! PLEASE! One wonders who believes this rubbish? Well he does sound slightly more sane and less fantastic interviewed by Sid Roth. Bentley’s friend, David Herzog, who goes on about living or flying or teleporting and curing “in the glory zone” (supposedly as great and strong or stronger than that of prophets of old) suggests on his website “a love donation” will bring you into the glory and mantle bearing. As if! …..And it seems Herzog can take as much as an hour of a Bentley meeting just going on about “giving”. However all this mantle seeking links to the fact…..


Like dream interpretation, “impartations”, a kind of hand given blessing or “anointing” or healing, could be considered integral to Christianity if to an ignored aspect of it. But since the so-called Toronto Blessing of the nineties impartations are becoming more widespread. They can be passed on like the shaktipat of Hindu gurus at their darshans and often at financially profitable seminars and conferences, held at luxury hotels or even on cruise liners. Some enthusiasts queue up for several impartations in an evening, a far cry from the idea the Holy Spirit descends once and forever although as said this is understood to be more like a blessing or booster injection. But at worst it can become like the “fix” of the addict in less happy circles and it should be noted that some false prophets like Bentley, Rob DeLuca (who misleadingly forecast re Bentley's influence) and Kim Clement have been former drug addicts.

Bentley could never get enough impartation from charismatic leaders for his self empowerment nor pass enough on to people. Toronto, and other revival effects are regularly controversial as when individuals (like Joshua Mills of the oils, jewels and gold dust) couldn’t stop laughing for 4 hours. Others can’t move from the ground for hours. Others keep screaming or shaking helplessly. It has become customary for almost all involved first to fall backwards, “slain in the spirit”. This in itself is a condition not reported before the time of the healer, Kathryn Kuhlmann, and not specifically described in the Bible whose much cited, but almost sole example of falling back rather than on the face forwards comes when the arrested Jesus tells the guards in Gethsemane “I am he” (Jn 18:6). Because this is not just an affirmation he is Jesus of Nazareth but deity (the sacred “I am who I am”) it cannot help but engender a response when uttered. But still this is a response to Christ rather than to the Spirit and it is from those of unprepared unbelief.

While in turn one can equally question narrow traditionalist critics who maintain there’s nothing in the Bible like impartations and response to them and there’s nothing because the Spirit is interested only in your mind and conveying Truth, not your body (but what about David’s manic dancing or the charge the apostles were “drunk” at Pentecost?) some simple common sense, not high theology, probably needs to be applied here. It’s true that impartation causing extreme reactions could be releasing joy and curing problems (much like an abreaction in psychoanalysis) but undeniably St Paul counsels experiencing the Spirit, at least in public and normally, in order and quiet (1 Cor. 12). What use would (excessive, prolonged) laughter, roaring, screaming, shaking, serve? “Holy” laughter has often been found to disrupt things as when it has started when communion is about to be served, scriptures read or some serious religious issue raised. It was precisely such behaviour that historically leaders of “revival” (Welsh, Wesleyan, Edwards etc) saw as its enemy and its chief advocates today, like Howard Rodney Brown sound suspicious – Brown calls himself the “Holy Ghost Bartender” and says he’d rather be in a church where the devil was active than nothing happening. So, while laughter may have uses – it’s medically acknowledged to have some healing power - clearly Brown is a sensationalist and the question for many since Brown’s Toronto Blessing has been supposing the devil was appearing for him after all?

But once again it’s less Brown than Bob Jones who is behind the current impartation trend because Jones’ hero, Branham was forever “imparting” to people. Instead of teaching, mainstream charismatic style, that the healer is a simple instrument of the Holy Spirit, Jones, who talks more about a “spirit of holiness” than Holy Spirit, teaches that one can bodily pass on the inner goodness the Spirit has already engendered. In practice this could mean (as some maintain who have felt Bentley style healing effects which give them only uncomfortable burning sensations in arms or back), the healer can pass on something more like their own raised serpent fire kundalini earth energies than anything celestial. (In Christianity one is anyway not supposed to lay hands on people in a hurry (1 Tim 5:22); but new mystics seem to have opted for a democratic, ecstatic, free-for-all passing on of body energies). The power passed on isn’t necessarily the Holy Spirit and one can read how in the rather wonder seeking South African churches there have had to be “rebukes” or exorcisms of counterfeit “Holy Spirit” energies.


The last point is a reminder it’s too easy and probably unwise to dismiss false prophets and their followers as wholly lost in imagination and hysteria. There can be as much genuine power as trickery. And there's no need either to heighten tensions insisting it can only ever be from God or devil. Even as respected a traditional Christian thinker as the Chinese, Watchman Nee spoke of the latent powers of “soul” to effect changes. Also, as the gifts of God are said to be “irrevocable” (Rom 11.29) they can be retained and misused if and when someone goes off the rails. This is perhaps how there can be mixed reports of the effects of Bentley healings. Some report complete cure of certain conditions, others are seeking healing from the effects of the so called healings. There have been reports of persons “healed” at Lakeland beginning to hear demonic voices, of suffering irrational fears or feeling burning sensations throughout the body. This situation could depend upon whether Bentley was more God minded one evening or had been drunk at the bar on another – over indulgence around the Lakeland bars had been noted in the tally of growing complaints against him.

What ought to be a rather alarming warning for especially those of the impartation and Joshua Mills gold dust school comes from accounts like Joanna Michaelsen’s The Beautiful Side of Evil (1982) where New Age involvements bring her to ecstatic visions of what proves a false Jesus or Tricia Tilma who alleges there is a type of demonic deception reserved for only quite genuine believers. She claims from experience of Toronto Blessing it can be so subtle there was a time she would have staked her life all she was feeling was love of God and bliss that had been implanted in her by the Spirit.

I can’t comment on such experiences never having received impartations good or bad, experiences which I’m not inclined always to judge from the wholly biblical perspective, (as opposed to psychological) that Tilma offers. But her words should be considered all the same especially by those who take too easily to impartations as automatically gifts from God or automatically protected against by some formularistic use of Jesus name.


False prophets are less given to generalized evangelical threats about the possible consequences of refusing a message than pointing, or letting their devotees point, to the possible consequences of refusing “their” message. Paul Crouch embarrassed his followers back in November ’97 when he declared death upon anyone who should put a hand against the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a stronghold of Word of Faith theory. Mike Bickle who helped (re)launch Bob Jones wouldn’t allow a word against him. One mustn’t touch “God’s anointed” or come to the same church if one had contrary views. The ill tempered Benny Hinn, another wealthy “prophet” (certifiably repeatedly in error with his forecasts) is too good at virtually cursing critics and opponents and Bob Jones is said to have a line in this. I have mentioned how Wendy Alec (herself clearly another false prophet –she actually forecast Jesus would appear at Bentley’s revival in June) has warned people against presuming to criticize Todd Bentley. All this belongs to the elitism of the Manifest Sons heresy.


If the false prophets actually contact, rather than imagine, angels they are more likely to be fallen ones than God’s. Some of Jones’s angels have surprised even him by oddly calling themselves “beings” rather than angels round God’s throne. There has been a lot of controversy around Bob Jones and Todd Bentley’s angel, Emma, who spread gold dust and promised healing miracles. Though critics seem unaware how even for the Bible female angels do exist (Zech 5:9) there are reasons to suspect from Bentley’s tatts and various associations that his Emma could be linked more to the demonic Japanese Emma-O especially as she does sometimes get referred to by him as Emma-O. But Branham justifies all. A prominent charismatic figure, another deluded false prophet, Che Ahn, absurdly declared back on April 24th at Lakeland "there is a Branham anointing on you and a double portion of it! The Lord is raising you up! And I feel I must say that I must decrease and You must increase!". In the event Bentley has been more wiped out for his failings than increased!"

It is the reputation of Branham as healer attended by an angel and ministering angels rather than real biographical knowledge about the rather tormented, self doubting person Branham was that has allowed so much into diverse charismatic circles that wouldn’t and shouldn’t otherwise be there. As you can see on You Tube, people who should know better like Roland Baker, husband of the saintly Heidi Baker, have actually declared Branhan to be "one of the most anointed men that has ever lived". Such nonsense can only be attributed to either charismatic ignorance of church history or a sensed need to find examples within a very recent movement.

Even one of Branham’s closest associates, another charismatic, Alfred Pohl (see interview at http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/branham.htm
notes that his healings were often brief and illusory. Time and again people died weeks after apparent healings for which Branham was receiving huge thank gifts, helped by the fact he didn’t even have to demonstrate healing often only promise it (“you will feel better in three days”) at which the sick person or their relatives rejoiced and paid up even if healing didn’t occur and then death eventuated a few weeks later. Not noted amid the encomiums is that if the Spirit was really involved in Branham’s life (when asked he regularly declared an angel rather than the Holy Spirit was healing people) it’s unlikely some modern John the Baptist would be born to parents who weren’t religious. They had nonetheless engaged some occult dabbling and the birth was suitably accompanied by a brilliant light and a halo around mother and child, the only reason the parents took a rare visit to church to have the child dedicated. Similarly odd, occult style phenomena like lights and floating orbs was something Branham reported on numbers of occasions in his life.

Another excuse to accept Branham as inspiration today is to maintain he merely declined from his Christian calling and fell into error. Yet arguably his vision was a cultish heresy from the outset. In youth he was tormented by a disembodied voice he either physically ran from or prayed would go away but which eventually manifested as his main angel sometimes called the angel of the Lord but in appearance like a spiritualist healer Branham knew. The angel was rather bullying. Branham was totally governed by him and could do no miracle without his presence and prompting. Branham never especially believed the Bible and maintained he was a mouthpiece of God to give the truth even if this denied the Bible or invented new stories like the seed of Cain produced by Eve’s intercourse with the snake. It’s amazing that those who question elements of the Bible on a scholarly or historical or humane basis will be dismissed as heretics by new mystics while if Branham denied anything from the Trinity to the stated nature of hell, that is kindly ignored. But then….


Pat King represents the fundamentalistically attached kind (though she’s still selective or she wouldn’t be dressed and coiffured in ways St Paul wouldn’t approve!). For King, everything in the Bible must be literally true - apparently even the metaphors and symbols. King proposes that when Isaiah says that those who wait on the Lord will rise up like eagles (Is 40.31) that means we all possess wings to astrally travel! Also almost anything can be true if it doesn’t literally contradict the Bible. This allows King to approve Bob Jones and Bentley on the angel Emma because it doesn’t overtly contradict anything. However such Biblicism hides a refusal to “test the spirits” under the power of the Spirit as one is supposed to do if entities actually start appearing and you have the kinds of gifts King claims. In line with his mentor, Ms King, Bentley, in a conservative moment, proposes no prophet should prophecy outside what the Bible says.

Yet doesn’t prophecy at least occasionally have to do just that as in the case of Jeremiah’s New Covenant claims which run against the Torah; or the vision of Peter who told God he must be mis-hearing and seeing about unclean animals being clean? Would the existing Bible ever have got written if a few variations on a theme weren’t allowed and some prophets have opposed some plausible false prophets? Believers are supposed to hear “what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:6) now and a slavish Biblicism won’t do this. It only compromises the declaratory, teaching function of prophecy intended to assist changes.

Obviously however, what the Spirit teaches will need to be within the general feeling and parameters of existing scripture even if and when the message is novel. Deluded Drunken Glory prophet, John Crowder, represents the other and biblically detached kind of prophet. In fact he seems to consider himself in the line of the mystics (including St John of the Cross!) and the Bible hardly comes into the picture except to justify the occasional point. There is no real attempt to keep within the style and spirit of the biblical; one does what one likes or follows gut feeling under the supposed influence of Spirit or angels of whom one scarcely inquiries as regards their nature and origin. Paul Cain, Mike Bickle and others without denying the Bible imply understanding will so enlarge our generation insipiration and vision can take over, as for them it often does.

As against all this true faith should establish balance between scriptural tradition and contemporary inspiration (indeed it's time people stopped the idolatry of talking about the Bible as "The Word of God" when it is Jesus who is supposed to be the Logos, the Word, the embodied "Living Word", not a Bible which clearly has a few errors in it). The existing situation betrays charismatics, in contrast to most other branches of the church, lack any real theology to function as yardstick. So far there’s mostly an all-or-nothing subjectivism even on the part of its more educated members. Some say a “charismatic theologian” is an oxymoron.


I don’t like to put down good works and if people establish orphanages in India or save street kids from drugs in Thailand (as apparently Patricia King wants to do this September) that’s good. But it’s not good enough if you’re trailing around lies or bad angels otherwise. And even if you can exorcise devils from Satanists (as people have alleged John Crowder has done), that’s good too. But again s not good enough if you’re only misleading trains of other people. Such wonderful deeds may have regrettably to be dismissed as Jesus dismisses those who claim they prophecied, cast out demons and did “great works” in his name (Mt.7:22). One hopes such words wouldn’t apply to the saintly Heidi Baker with her astonishing work for thousands of orphans in Africa but her utter lack of discernment in being associated with the likes of Bob Jones and Kathie Walters at conferences (and the money spinning Elijah List) makes one think she must be a bit stupid amid her good intentions. But Christ does also talk about the Children of Light not being wise in their generation.

The good works of false prophets also have be rejected as tied to Dominionist heresy about Christianizing the world by effort and laws so that Jesus can return safely to earth or simple "emerge". It’s one of the reasons we find those of Manifest Sons and Latter Rain bias like Rick Joyner can be controversially tied to the Knights of Malta or you can see a photo of Paul Cain visiting Saddam Hussein or hear Jason Westerfield describe how he turned up in the Philippines with advice for national leaders how to improve their economy and be rid of hereditary curses - helped of course by angelic inspiration (Jason also claims to have sat in on Bush/Greenspan talks in the White House - teleported there in the Spirit!). These people in fact or imagination are out to change the world en route to becoming equal to, or new manifestations of, Christ. However, one notices these same prophets don’t tend to be interested in subjects like current plans to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem or forecasts regarding the fate of Israel or the Vatican and various issues of at least potentially apocalyptic significance. These could be end-of-era events some argue should develop soon or else in another millennium or not at all but whatever they are not developments dismissable via some Bob Jones type time line which has Dominionists harvesting souls and changing the world over the next half century as though little will happen except an increase of power and “glory” among a theocratic elite who will command the elements if and when quake and climate get out of control.


Their vocal and committed hostility in these areas helps link false prophets to the more conservative elements in churches who might otherwise dismiss them. And it helps make them feel good. Interestingly the initial Christ visions of Bob Jones had to do with “homosexuals” (Jones claims today to have foreseen AIDS back in the seventies though I can’t see that it’s on record he did) and the rising tide of the evil of abortion in America. Perverted in their minds false prophets like to be able to condemn others for perversion, and as destroyers of the beliefs of many they want to point the finger at whoever could seem destroyers at the physical level - interestingly these pro-lifers never seem to bother to speculate or declare when the soul/spirit might enter the foetus. It’s a point on which Jewish and Christian traditions have sometimes varied from the modern view which with suitably fundamentalistic literalism simply takes conception as the beginning of life, regardless of theories of “quickening” etc.

As regards homosexuality (and for the likes of Pat Robertson almost every hurricane hitting Florida is divine judgement for tolerating Sodom!) their attitudes may additionally help hide just how linked they and/or certain prophetic tendencies generally are to the gay orientation. They’ve had enough trouble around the most reportedly gifted of the Kansas City prophets, Paul Cain. They could well yet have trouble around a few others. They don’t want to take into account what is arguably the natural psychism of many gays because they’re committed to their “cure” rather than to (any arguably biblical) acknowledgement that some are “eunuchs” (which can just mean not opposite sex attracted) from birth, still less that others could be bisexually inclined which is what I believe quite a few of the current false prophets mafia are.

The trouble with this noisy, very political intransigence is that it merely helps alienate gays from the church entirely, even to becoming its avowed enemy, while people who believe there are reasonable rights re abortion for especially such as rape and incest are seriously offended, confused in their conscience by the questionable level of imposition involved upon the democratic right of secular members of society to be secular or Christians and some churches to hold any alternative opinions in this area.


The same week that God TV’s self declared (and verifiably false) prophet, Wendy Alec galvanized many with her The Bay the Bay the Bay forecast about the destruction of San Francisco portrayed as a seat of idolatry but also, inevitably, Sodom, another self declared prophet posted a revelation. Judy Bauman, a prophet I know nothing about and so can vouch nothing for, nevertheless offered a message which included the following words, allegedly from Jesus. I fancy they would constitute a rather bold statement for any evangelical in America if the message was less directly from Jesus than she believes:

…..Beloved, I Am not asking the lost sinner to repent, I Am asking My church to repent! For too long My church has told homosexuals and abortionists that they need to repent when it is My church that needs to repent. I Am there to bind up the wounds of the hurting and lost, but My church goes around Me and uses the very Sword I placed in their hands [the Word of God] to cause harm. They further wound the very ones I seek to save by misusing My words as a weapon instead of a scalpel. They have not rightly divided the Word of Truth and have used My words to bring death instead of healing…..

Whether Jesus or Judy Bauman is more behind these words, prophets and new mystics “bringing death” instead of healing is plainly a major problem of our times we had better all find more discernment to deal with.

Monday, September 1, 2008



Although there have always been false prophets of all kinds my theme is especially a new species sometimes calling themselves The New Mystics, title of a recent book from one of their number. They are currently enjoying such a field day in America and across Europe it’s troubling. A good deal more troubling and subversive than anything that occasionally comes to your front door with tracts and that you dismiss with hardly a thought.

And curiously, despite the flamboyance of these “mystics”, it isn’t always so easy to spot them at the ideas level because they manage to insinuate via trends and expectations more mainstream within minds and churches, and perhaps because we’ve all become a bit “post-modern” and relativized where truth is concerned. Recent controversies around the phenomenon of healer/evangelist Todd Bentley who has been so improbably kicking and hissing the Holy Spirit’s power into the sick before audiences of thousands per night for months, is an interesting example of just how far many have gone beyond normal discernment in the area of beliefs. Before the Bentley bubble burst in mid August known names in religious circles like Wendy Alec of GodTV were so inappropriately enthusiastic they discouraged criticism of someone supposedly “anointed” by God with threats of divine retribution for the presumption.


Typically the scandal round Todd Bentley’s Lakeland crusade has been subject to a lot of silly in-church waffle about purely moral failings like a broken marriage and calls to pray for and not judge a “poor” stressed preacher. A failed marriage seems almost minor against the scandal of a healer over-indulging in the bars of Lakeland and the cruelty of booting a fourth degree cancer patient in the stomach, supposedly kicking the Spirit’s healing into him. (The man didn’t report healing, only pain! – you can see it on You Tube).

It’s doubtful there’s been anything quite like what’s going on since the medieval St Vitus dance and there’s a touch to it of “signs and wonders to deceive the elect if it were possible” (Mk 13:22). People are now actually following the likes of John Crowder and Benjamin Dunn whose “tokin the Ghost” (pretending to smoke the Holy Spirit like grass) and rolling in “the drunken glory” of God, making holy chaos and sacred mess, looks like a Billy Connolly comedy or (when they’re dressed in religious habits), a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence act from Frisco. But, no, these are actually ministries, movements engaging healings and exorcisms actively promoted and eagerly sought after. Devotees are brought to heightened belief by “impartations” so that some claim they see (or commune and dance with!) Jesus and the angels in glory love fests and “Holy Ghost rave parties”. It’s all too good, or bad, to be true and some of it can seem little short of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Heresy was rarely so clownish and/or perverse as what some call the “post-modern” brand of “emergent” Christianity being peddled. Crowder claims to have been converted to Jesus in the course of an acid trip.

Even those apparently more reverent and normal in style - relatively normal if you know my opinions re the Patricia King look! - can be distinctly extravagant and strange. Religious media figures in King’s eXtremeProphetic, a US TV programme you can watch streamed on the Net, report on the likes of Joshua Mills who oozes oil from his hands and (in something like an extension of America’s prosperity gospel!) keeps receiving gold dust on his face or jewels from angelic realms and who, when his own ring was stolen, supposedly astral travelled to the thief’s bedroom to regain it. The Spirit has allegedly taught Josh how to play electric piano – it’s remarkable how bland his gift sounds when demonstrated!

Ms King, founder of EP, said to be a former witch but whatever her past, now “crazy in love with Jesus”, has travelled with angels in fiery chariots and reports making up lost hours in driving time getting teleported to conferences and so on. She wants to raise the dead and her mentoring of Bentley may be responsible for his unsubstantiated claims to have resurrected 27 souls. Despite her extremes Pat King, like others in her line, has done apparently admirable down-to-earth work with street people.


Ms. King favours ecstatic trance dance worship which the likes of Crowder have developed big time and which at XP is in the hands of Caleb Brundidge an “ex gay” and if anything the least gay looking of some of Ms King’s new mystic friends some of whom might be felt to give a rather gay/bi vibe though smilingly locked into their de rigueur marriages. Caleb’s style in dance events look like…well… much like any Saturday night at gay disco or perhaps we might think bisexual disco…. and “holy chaos” if done in the more drunk and druggy looking style of the buddies in "holy" ecstasy, Crowder and Dunn.

[Comment added Jan 2010 - Caleb seems guilty of much and, a proof how little seemingly righteous and far seeing prophetic people really "see", he has been named as one of the three "evangelicals" whose travels and opinions have influenced the unacceptable views and recent plans of the Ugandan Church that have become an international scandal seeking to push a whole variety of draconian, unprecedented anti-gay laws through the national parliament. These laws include death for gay relations and requirement on pain of imprisonment or fine that schools, churches etc report anyone they think might be gay to the authorities. The scandal is now so widespread those concerned now say they never intended to cause what has happened but the fact is it has happened. Christ's saying about a bad tree not bringings forth good fruit (no puns here!)seems relevant. These people are simply outside the divine will and cause trouble accordingly.]

Only when the desire for change that’s sweeping Obama’s America is also sweeping religion could there be the kind of openness that lends some credence to the healers, “New Mystics”, the “Joel’s Army”, the “Elijah Generation”, “The Joshua generation” etc geared up to reform the world and set churches on a more last times or new age course. It’s undeniable there is a new age like and shamanistic style dimension to Christianity and conservatives and liberals with respectively their cessationist theologies (miracles for Jesus’ time only) or outright skepticism, aren’t necessarily correct to deny the faith this side. It’s more a question of how far should one go with it and what spiritual forces or just silliness one might be opening oneself up to, if, say, you start trawling people’s dreams for revelations, something which has become almost an obsession leading to an interpretation industry in some quarters. Yet even this can be (sort of) justified by the claim of Pentecost that “your young men shall see visions”…. etc.

Theoretically, Christians are supposed to believe in visions and miracles and there’s been a widespread shift among all churches during the last decade towards the charismatic (in South America it has been said nearly half the Catholic churches have gone charismatic). Among specifically Pentecostals there’s memory of a forecast of 1908 by one of their founders that in roughly a century a greater, more global movement would hit. So, if a colourful figure like Todd Bentley sets himself up as visionary healer and the likes of Benny Hinn and Bob Jones (see below) endorse him and declare the new wave has begun people wonder is prophecy fulfilled? And if things seem a bit different might that be the great change desired? It follows that if people won’t exercise caution (“discernment”) there’s a vulnerable, expectant audience waiting to be exploited.

Also facilitating things to the extent America is centre of these trends, is the operation of a national values system which allows some individuals (inside the churches and out) to get away with murder provided they don’t upset buddy feelings of the group and have sufficient good causes to promote and scapegoat figures to condemn to deflect criticism from the failings and subversions they themselves represent.


It’s clear where the New Mystics descend from and it’s a certain breakaway (heretic) Pentecostal, a noted healer and mind reader, William Branham (1909-1965). Towards the end of his life he taught he was the reincarnated Elijah and the seventh angel of the Revelation as per Rev 10:7 and that the Trinity is a “demonic” doctrine. Branham was by any standards excessively in touch with angels, his own healer angel plus a variety of “ministering angels” who have subsequently been in touch with Todd Bentley and John Crowder. Declining from mainstream beliefs about apocalypse (which are admittedly somewhat varied and disputed!) Branham taught a Latter Rain and Manifest Sons of God doctrine which meant that a last times generation would produce unprecedented miracles that would hasten Jesus’ return to the world and cause an elite to come forth and be realized as semi-divine figures on earth. In practice this means that new mystics tend to be Dominionists, seeking to intervene in secular laws and ready if need be to rant, rail and get weepy like Lou Engel at special rallies, assemblies, fasts, against the evils of modern society in order to make the world Christian, not least by law, in ways that will help institute the Millennium for Jesus. They are thus in some ways heavily political and close to the Christian Right.

Branham followers (none are exact) are effectively a loose cult group which have nonetheless sufficiently ignored or modified Branham’s extremes to stay within the churches under the influence of especially the controversial Bob Jones, who was in touch with Branham’s main disciple, Paul Cain, and the Kansas City Prophets. Depending upon your view Bob Jones is either someone who has prophetic gifts … "of true biblical stature…..when Bob comes to a church or city almost every person he encounters is left functioning on a higher spiritual level.” (Rick Joyner) - or he’s the perfect fraud. What’s undisputed is that Jones was rejected by the Anaheim Vineyard church in the early nineties for “improprieties”, most notably encouraging women to kit off in his office to receive prophecies from God in the nude - one gathers women have since been asking for protection against Bob’s apparent tendency still to make unwanted appearances when they undress. (Letter of Rev Jesse Star of Texas reproduced at:

The unwanted visitations could represent gossip or hysteria but then one also reads his own associates have sometimes asked blessed Bob after he has appeared in their dreams is he really doing that and Bob has admitted he does sometimes appear. Whatever the truth it’s clear both that Bob is one of the more heterosexual mystics (it was his Emma angel supposedly launched the Kansas Prophets’ movement) and that he will go almost anywhere in the universe at the drop of a hat, even taking friends to the third heaven including Bentley. All they need to do is sit in a restaurant or wherever with him and he will take their hands so they will rise there – a procedure which recalls “rising on the planes” in occult circles. (New Age visualization exercises have a lot to do with Ms Todd and Ms King’s heavenly trips otherwise).

When Jones was young he was an alcoholic bar room brawler and womanizer. Following a breakdown during which, he relates, Jesus improbably told him he would need to kill or forgive twelve people, Jesus also showed him heaven and hell and people dissolving into him. When Jones converted the devils that he said talked to him so often amid drink were exchanged for angels - some of them Branham’s. But were the devils still speaking under different guise? It’s certainly peculiar that Jones claims to visit heaven, see Jesus daily and have prophecies galore yet has remained unhealed of kidney problems for which he’s on dialysis. God apparently told Jones (contrary to the rather strict biblical standards in the area) it didn’t matter if prophets got things wrong, prophets needed to be about 65 per cent right. It’s a fact Jones is himself quite often right for which it seems people will forgive him almost anything. His forecast God had chosen a “burning Bush” to rule America was a gift to the religious right.


What is becoming a bit of a new and exclusive prophetic club-cum-mafia all seems to connect somewhere to the dubious granddaddy of so many things, Bob Jones, who has been spiritual mentor to such as Todd Bentley and a guide, justification and “father” to many others – Pat King considers sitting at his feet next to doing the same before Jesus! All the following names who enjoy a certain respectability in charismatic circles they shouldn’t have, show connections with Bob Jones and/or the Kansas City prophets or with Patricia King and Todd Bentley. They include such iffy writers, preachers or campaigners (many promoted on Steve Scultz's Elijah list on the Net)as:

Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle (first and chief defender of Bob Jones in Kansas City), John Crowder, David Herzog, Ryan Wyatt, Francis Frangipane, Bill Johnson, Chuck Pierce, James Goll, Stacey Campell, Bobby Connor, Jill Austin, Lou Engel, Randy Clark, Shawn Bolz (in touch with God’s angelic minister and angels of finance), Peter Wagner. Also Kathie Walters (angels have let her ride a golden motorbike round the skies because God wants believers to have more fun), Barbie Breathitt of Breath of the Spirit Ministries (is there a name connection here?) who will sell you Tarot like cards to interpret your dreams and know why you have an illness, John Paul Jackson (chosen by an angel before birth) and the wayward, Paul Cain, (periodically condemned and restored for a mixture of alcoholism and gay sex. He absurdly considers Branham “the greatest prophet who ever lived”). Cain originally helped promote the ever smiling and filmstarrish Matt Sorger who takes two healing angels with him wherever he goes and invokes revival angels almost anywhere.

Personally I don’t believe any of these people can be trusted, and certainly not as long as they are in any way identified and friendly with especially Jones and/or the memory of Branham and also so hot on the money. More innocently, perhaps ignorantly, occasionally connected with either Jones or King are Bonnie and Mahesh Chavda and sweet smiling Jason Westerfield. But Jason is another of the many-angels-to-help-him boys.

How to spot traits and ideas of false prophets inside or out of the mentioned club I'll list in Part Two.