HOW WISE AND HELPFUL IS SID ROTH??
Whether or not Sid Roth will ever start growing younger as one of his guests prophesied he would, he is not the kind of person in imminent danger of growing wiser with age. In fact, he risks increasingly making a fool of himself and the eager flock that follows him; and if it weren’t quite so sad and serious, in some instances it might be almost amusing.
I am not about to say, (as some keen to trash American media religion would doubtless wish), that everything that has reached Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural, show is nonsense to be dismissed and avoided. At least some of the themes and guests have given real grounds for reflection and the books of two persons interviewed I have recently cited in something I am writing. But two recent broadcasts epitomized for me the negative side of Roth’s quest for “the naturally supernatural” and left me appalled. Plus it’s just hard to excuse Roth too easily in light of correspondence and testimonies I have been receiving.
Way back in September ’08 I put out two Blog articles about false prophets and prophecy. For some reason, presumably linked to the dearth of critical treatment of the theme on the Net, these articles have attracted more attention than others I felt were more important. I still regularly receive correspondence about them. I can’t and don’t publish most that gets sent (and obviously I don’t include those irate messages which tell me I’m blaspheming the Holy Spirit for even questioning their favourite prophets!) and some of the correspondence is anyway to me personally, not for Blog comments publication. But...I’m aware by now I’ve hit a raw nerve. There are people either personally suffering or seeing people and churches rent apart by some of the individuals put on a pedestal and uncritically accepted and promoted by media religionists such as Sid Roth though clearly “inwardly they are ravening wolves” as the gospels would tell us.
Of broadcasts which appalled me in recent weeks one featured a certain Katie Souza and another featured film maker, Darren Wilson, whose latest offering once again included something of his friend, the spiritual “equipper”, Jason Westerfield.
KATIE SOUZA: EX CAREER CRIMINAL ASCENDS TO HEAVEN AND BUSTS CLOUDS
Katie Souza got introduced by Sid as a virtual Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde, a career criminal. There isn’t much this hyper-active, super-resourceful person hasn’t got up to and engaged in around Hollywood, from vehicle theft and gun shoot outs, to drug pushing and making – she set up her own factory to increase income. When finally caught and locked in the slammer for thirteen years reality suddenly hit and she turned to Jesus – again. (To gather from her site she had apparently been converted years before but let slip). We are supposed to be impressed by her story – Sid is overwhelmed as usual - a sort of grace abounding in the chief of sinners tale. But something doesn’t quite ring true, especially the way Jesus supposedly gets Katie out of prison real fast and even tells her the exact date of release in advance.
We no longer live in a Christian world that talks penance especially if we’re not Catholics, but if Souza was truly converted one feels that like "Son of Sam" Berkowitz who, though exorcized and converted, mindful of his crimes has refused to ask for parole, Souza might at least have taken her medicine and slowed down a little to examine herself. Did she stop to mourn the lives of those she may have ruined through especially her drug dealing? St Paul who called himself chief of sinners and least of the apostles for having persecuted the church, retired to the desert for years before emerging with his new message.
Souza hardly waits to take breath. She starts reading the Bible and rather more. Influenced by the controversial David Herzog, (another of Roth’s highly dubious favourites), she’s off like a shot on her spiritual motor cycle and working inside Herzog’s “glory cloud” to produce miracles on the quick rather than wait, as others might need to do, for years. She even has material out that Roth is happy to promote which supply you techniques to get what you want from God - fast. You ascend to heaven like Jacob on his ladder - did he do this when he saw the ladder? - and you sort things out at “throne room level” with God. You may be given a sword to cloud bust, demon dragon kill or whatever, but you’ll get what you and others want and need. Apparently the farmers of Oklahoma only had their harvest last year because Katie ascended and sorted the weather out with God, the angels and a sword. Oh how feeble of all the Christians and saints of history not to have got their God techniques sorted out!
Please note too – though the undiscerning Roth who these days feels the power of God in the studio almost at the drop of a hat, can’t – that the glory cloud talk is nonsense. There is none. The divine glory is God’s presence which is fire hidden by the cloud. One doesn’t “work” in or with any cloud like so many Christian magicians. Katie has (heretically) learned from Herzog that creation itself was somehow effected through the Glory and she has even decided that because Jesus looked to heaven at the feeding of the five thousand, it’s a sure thing he was drawing on the Cloud and we should do the same. I mean.....anyone can just read up on it all in her book and CD! One can also listen to her final benediction on the show and be blessed. “In Jesus name” may our finances be increased, may we be given our needs etc......There was no reference in conclusion that was not purely material. If God cares for our needs God cares for other things too, and any genuinely spiritual person will remember that.
DARREN WILSON WITH ANGELS, WITCHES AND JASON WESTERFIELD
Now back one show before Souza to young film maker, Darren Wilson’s latest offering, Furious Love though that requires I mention an earlier production. Wilson’s original investigation into charismatic miracles, Finger of God, also featured by Roth, had supposedly received some of its impulse from an odd angel who kept repeating, “Are you ready, are you ready, are you ready?”. (Weird angel that can’t say what he means!). Near the beginning there is a group of people under the Toronto Blessing aegis – a warning sign in itself for deception and charismatics become virtual witchcraft as it’s the Holy Ghost laughing, barking and roaring movement triggered by Howard Rodney Brown who threatened God with suicide if he didn’t come with suitable blessing and who actually calls himself “The Holy Ghost Bartender”. Heavenly manna appears and that trendiest of miracles, gold dust has arrived. This time in an odder than usual way. An elderly man is lying helplessly on the floor under the anointing with gold dust on his trouser crotch making it look as though he’s peed himself. With people peering at the man’s crotch because gold dust’s there we’re informed the Lord must have “a killer sense of humour”. Really?
Incidentally, Sid Roth just loves the gold dust and heavenly jewels miracles. Kathy Walters, one of his guests, keeps getting dusted, so much so that prophet Bob Jones (who takes friends to heaven just by holding their hands) has assured her “it’s God kissing you”. The craze for gold dust (what biblical prophets ever knew of it?) started with the late half-crazed (or possessed?) Ruth Ward Heflin, Herzog’s guru, who was so eccentric she believed if she could dance in jet airliner toilets over certain areas of the world that helped to insure revivals in those areas!
Wilson’s latest film thankfully doesn’t include gold-drenched Kathy (who once told Sid the angels invite her to ride in chariots around the universe – as her natural Christian “inheritance”!) but early on, and then by way of grand finale, it shows (teleporting, astral travelling) Jason Westerfield’s supposed miracles. No, it’s not one of his visits to the White House and other centres of power to overhear high level meetings, but involves Jason almost forcing himself in a park upon someone with crutches whose limp, injuries or whatever, Jason heals. True, it’s done in Jesus’ name, but the recipient of healing never gets beyond being puzzled and declaring, “It’s cool”. Something doesn’t feel spiritual about the episode. It’s not exactly the Book of Acts on film with the power of God being experienced by the one healed, it’s more an episode in the general feel good ambience that Westerfield’s showbiz background easily conveys. The film concludes with a street drifter being pepped up and cured of a limp and back aches by a friendly JW. Again the event feels unspiritual, almost staged, (though I’m not charging Wilson with that).
To gather from clip of the latest film, Westerfield features again and oddly so in a way that should send out danger signals. For this docu Wilson’s group seeks to “confront” the dark side and the occult - they want exorcisms presumably. They travel to Salem to a witches’ meet. Nothing happens despite prayers all day – they probably don’t hear because they shouldn’t be where they are or doing what they’re doing. But suddenly Westerfield is moved. He approaches a witch, a black male, puts his hands on his shoulders and stares at him and just loves him and loves him in Jesus’ name. The warlock stares back slowly lowering his hood. Jesus has apparently loved the witch “furiously” and successfully. Job done, point made.
But what point? There’s a similarity here to the situation described in a controversial Jesus novel I once reviewed in which Jesus doesn’t really drive out any demons. He so intensely loves them they get uneasy with his love vibe and depart. It was an idea I wrote at the time was interesting and imaginative but which I couldn’t accept. Which I can’t. It isn’t what Jesus’ war upon the other realm is about. It suggests a forgiveness for the evil spirits which is not divinely permitted to them in the way it can be to mortals.
It’s not clear to me quite what Westerfield is about (some of my correspondents would say money – he lives in some luxury - others can only see a saint). He appears loosely affiliated with the New Mystics line in prophets. Chief spokesperson for this trend/group is the unspeakable John Crowder of the Drunken Glory Tours and Sloshfests. He converted to Jesus during an LSD trip and seems to imagine one can “toke the Ghost”, (pretend smoke or inject the Holy Spirit like the latest drug of your fancy). I can’t be bothered to decide where Jason W belongs on any New Mystics spectrum because wherever it is I don’t regard him from his odd conversion story onwards - he originally knows nothing about Christianity but some being/angel? visits his room so he starts reading up on scriptures – as representing any adequate form of religion.
JW is regarded by charismatics a la Roth and Patricia King of Xtreme Prophetic (who helped launch the disgraced and disgraceful Todd Bentley onto the world) as an exciting channel for wonders and spirit force and the mentioned clip looked to me like a lower spirit force recognizing a higher one. Which isn’t the same as to say it was necessarily God. Otherwise surely the hoped for exorcism would have taken place. And exorcism can only in rare instances take place without consent of the possessed. So, if the witch didn’t want his familiar spirit(s) to leave, what is all this about?
There are simply too many questions here and all I can say is I feel Wilson and Roth have no business to let this kind of thing so un-discerningly through, promoting it as though it’s somehow either notably supernatural or Christian. The Roth promotion is always that if someone is “walking in the supernatural”, producing healing (whether medically attested or not), it simply has to be good. And followers will assure any critics that it’s nothing but jealousy, faithlessness or demonic opposition if you question things. (Love of Truth is not a possible motivation, it seems!) But I insist if Roth and Wilson can manage to accept some of the evidence they do (even if mixed with good evidence) then they risk becoming like those who offer “strange fire” mixed with the offering in the book of Numbers (Num 3:4) or even the absurd Pentecostals of Kenya who welcomed Benjamin Creme’s Maitreya as a visitation of Jesus. See my February Blog article “How Real is Maitreya?”
SID ROTH’S TRICKY STARS
When in doubt blame others. Despite his evident hunger for the magical, Roth is on something like his moral high horse if anything like a borderline subject, say, astrology, is mentioned. It’s occult! It’s forbidden! It’s divination! It’s evil! This, despite the fact astrologers came to Jesus’ birth, the Essenes sought signs of the Messiah in the skies and the Talmudic rabbis had plenty to say about the astrology that was never understood to fall under the “divination” rubric that American fundamentalism has invented for it and pursued with its usual fanaticism. But then of course, wicked astrology can supply disagreeably awkward facts.
Number one for Sid Roth is that the conjunct Sun, Mars and Mercury of this typically communicating, media-savvy Gemini (born 30.5.1936 according to Wikipedia) are under what is called direct square “affliction” from Neptune - text book stuff giving a strong warning that Roth risks being either himself subject to, or else conveying to others, a degree of illusion. Belonging to the aspect is all his too frequent “sensing God’s presence” or angel presences in the studio and all the concomitant wiping the floor to people with some kind of “power” but too many personal and financial ambitions beyond it that bear no kind of connection with traditional prophecy.
Real prophecy if anything is more involved with abuse, failure and rejection. One doubts that Jeremiah would easily get into Roth’s studio (or many another religious programme). These days with media religionists few can get an honest word in. I am only writing this article publicly because I can’t write a message privately and hope to have a meaningful response or trigger any conversation. It’s just not the way big religious concerns in media or publishing function today. If God sent a message from heaven tonight, it would be largely blocked by the manipulative, very worldly American religious system drunk on celebrity names, money deals and agency (what’s your church? who’s recommending you? who’s your agent? what’s your CV?) and which even often has the insolence to request positive feedback only to websites or 100 word messages to fit office convenience. Many have the minds, in short, of what St Paul called “men pleasers” (Eph 6:6). Accordingly if anyone is offended or embarrassed by such as myself being public in open letter style it’s not my responsibility. It’s the fault of the system which American religion creates, then bows to.
SID ROTH’S INTERNATIONAL AMBITIONS
Sid Roth’s less than purely prophetic concern with miracles, healing and the supernatural appears to have an insufficiently examined basis in his Messianic (Christian) Jew desire to reach Jews. It’s an impulse that has heated up and increased recently, including controversially in Israel where rabbinic warnings have gone out against him, especially for the contents of a book, They Thought for Themselves, which Roth is trying to have distributed everywhere and appealing for funds to manage to do so. You can read a free version of the book on the Net. And it’s of genuine interest with perfectly fair comments from its contributors about Jewish backgrounds, rabbinical ideas and so on.
I am not seeking to oppose what it’s Roth’s perfect right to do, namely to try to teach and persuade others if he wishes or believes he should. Mission has always been a Christian imperative and Roth believes that years ago he was “told by God” to write and distribute the book. So, fair enough. But that was years ago and situations and persons change. Today, if what Roth once had was a genuine vocation it stands to be undermined by his current lack of discernment and possibly a touch of vanity or megalomania that by now seems to underlie the ambition to change a whole nation via media. And with gold-drenched Kathy diving under a table because she sees the archangel Michael turning up in Jerusalem to assure her Sid has a special mission for Israel, one ought to smell something more suspicious and less exquisite than the supposed heavenly aromas from the miracle worlds of Bob Jones and X-treme Patricia King.
For a start, Sid Roth believes he must produce or promote miracles because that’s what will, in St Paul’s words, “provoke the Jew to jealousy” (Rom 11:11) and belongs to the signs that Jews want 1 Cor 1:22). What’s getting overlooked amid this is that St Paul disapprovingly mentions that the Greeks demand wisdom and the Jews signs. Miracles are important, but belief is not meant to be founded on devastating people with the supernatural where they should be practicing faith. Jesus even tried to hide some of his miracles to avoid falsely based belief. Surely one of the reasons the Jews desire signs is because few people among traditionally religious peoples could be considered more sceptical and closer to sheer atheism than the Jews. If Sid Roth seriously imagines that the average Jew is going to listen to some of his supernaturalism as opposed to question or laugh at it, he is again seriously misled.
What Sid Roth’s change-through-miracles programme panders to is partly his own weakness for sheer magic, the same weakness that drew him years ago into the New Age and which he claims gave him the familiar spirit that finally so took over his life and terrified him that he converted to be rid of it. But the hunger for magic hasn’t disappeared and just possibly its spirit or spirits have not completely departed either – ironically one of the more solid personalities Roth has featured, exorcist Don Dickerman, controversially warned about instances of perfectly sincere believers remaining semi-possessed or at least obsessed by their original spirits. It’s hard not to believe the grosser errors of some prophetic stars of the charismatic heavens come under just this category especially when there are histories of long term prior involvements in drugs or occult practices. The Holy Spirit, if star performer charismatics really do have the Spirit, is a bit too near some other spirits for comfort.
SID ROTH: ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
I can only say to Sid Roth and those who follow him, beware! Or at least start using some discrimination if you want to influence people meaningfully and with integrity. Christians are told “to try the spirits” (1 Joh 4:1). Roth and his team plainly like a good story, and it’s doubtful they’ve seriously done too much testing of the spirits if it interferes with headlines stuff. I realize the team says it does everything “under guidance of the Spirit”, but they need to remember that if you’re stubborn for your ideas you are warned that God will answer you according to your idols (Ezek 14:4) and the idols here risk being signs and wonders. And the extent of the wonders is no measure of their validity. The gospel warning against those who say “Lord, Lord” but don’t belong to the kingdom is nonetheless made against those claiming the extreme, to have prophecied, to have cast out demons and raised the very dead (Matt 7:21,22) and all in Christ’s name.
Despite all I’ve said, I believe that Sid Roth is basically well-intentioned and not a mere deliberate fraud, and I repeat that some insights can be drawn from some of the people and themes he has investigated. It’s just that for the kind of tricky areas he deals in, an area where truth can mix with illusion - and there’s no lie like a half truth - something more than just good intentions may be needed.
AFTERWORD ADDED FEBRUARY 2011
SID ROTH AND IT’S SUPERNATURAL THROUGH THE TOILET DOOR
For me the final straw with Sid Roth is the ridiculous promotion of “supernatural travel”, or transportation by another of these never to be trusted advocates of “The Glory”. Sid interviews a certain Bruce Allen (who looks a bit like Wikileaks’ Julian Assange) who has been “led” to promote this "mantle", the Christian’s inheritance of supernatural travel. Bruce learned of this when the Lord supposedly began cutting down his driving times across Washington State after he prayed over a car bonnet. It turns out that we all need to learn, and we all can if only we have faith, to travel and conveniently disappear or even go transparent as in a supposed photo of Bruce dematerialized during a church service. Jesus is now teaching this branch of the miraculous because when, soon, believers will be persecuted or the Mark of the Beast is imposed, they will need to have safe place getaways. Just walk through a supernatural portal into glory power - apparently it’s God’s own shield against your martyrdom! (Wasn't the most recent teaching that believers would be raptured before there was any Mark of the Beast?)
It gets worse. The travel idea came to Bruce from a friend telling him of a friend Richard who, to serve the Lord’s will in evangelism turned up at Kenya airport with no money or passport but knowing he must leave on a plane. God commands him to enter the third stall of the men’s toilet and to start praising the Lord. After five minutes (did occupants of the washroom hear all this praise?) he opens the lavatory door to find himself in France.
One wonders how Richard then managed if he didn’t speak French. Perhaps he spoke to the cyncial French in tongues?! But then how did he manage without cash, did it materialize like manna from heaven? How did Richard return? Even enthusiastic Sid asks that, but Foss lamely admits he didn’t ask his friend that. Didn’t ask that most essential obvious question? Didn’t ask lest the fantasy be blown away? It’s only the toilet connection remains to such tales. When Bruce himself starts travelling it’s to Sydney, Australia (he just knows that’s the place after shooting through the stars and passing through a door of light), but when he asks the Lord how to get back, God, who won’t let him see the Sydney he was so lifelong crazy to see, has to return through the bathroom door of the Sydney office high rise he’s in.
SID ROTH SHOULD AVOID BATHROOM ANGELS
I would advise the incorrigible Sid Roth to avoid all bath and restroom stories. This former New Ager who perhaps never quite got rid of his old gods and needs to have them washed out if not in a washroom, might as well belong to the god Pan for addiction to magic.
I recall how one of the modern doyennes of the occult centre of Findhorn worked her way and the organizations’ way to power via communications with Pan in the toilet. There’s nothing wrong with toilets except that they’re not kosher, they have been co-opted for the material realm. I have forgotten which guest it was some months back who mentioned but didn’t dwell on what struck me as a nonetheless bizarre point about angels who are so keen to accompany you around they are grinning at you in the bathroom or waiting at the toilet door as you exit. I suggest these aren’t angels. In the same way another guest, or perhaps it was the same one, had a tale about being in Mexico on a healing mission to a blind person and meeting a Jesus who got doubled over with helpless laughter. This wasn’t Jesus any more than the bathroom angels were angels. Nor is there real travel…just some psychic projection, if that.
Bruce promises to demonstrate his travel on this week’s show. Sid who can't wait to get moving admits he didn’t “travel” when Bruce seized his hand and concentrated on God and had found himself in some restaurant opposite where Sid had stayed in Jerusalem and perhaps sees or meets some waiter who works there. God has supposedly commissioned this bit of psychic trickery or just plain suggestibility to help the church. It’s all either illusion fit for party tricks or it’s demonic, one or the other, but it’s not of God.
I notice Sid began by saying he had been “freaking out” when he recently arrived in Mobile Alabama and was told at the hotel front desk he had been there in the same clothes saying the same things though Sid had never been to Mobile before. Of course it could be, and likely is, just mistaken identity; but if it truly is the spiritual phenomenon the would-be travelling Sid imagines, then he really had better start freaking out because the spirits are playing games and Lucifer is having the last laugh at quite so much undiscerning stupidity offered to the world in Christ’s name……for of course a “gift” of x dollars to have the latest book CD, course or whatever to get you travelling in the Glory. But of course if you suggested to these people that C.S. Lewis's Narnia which is reached through more enchanting doorways, was good reading for children they would protest you were as good as corrupting them with magic. The nonsense and the hypocrisy is almost more than sincerity and intelligence can stand.