As you walked into the building, twenty minutes before the service began, the lights were already dimmed in anticipation for what was supposed to be a time of worship. The stage was set, the guitarist and other musicians getting ready for what they presumably thought would be glorious time of worshiping the King of kings and Lord of Lords. The problem came shortly after this “worship” began. Besides the fact that the environment was clearly situated to induce emotionalism and it felt more like entering a concert hall than a place of worship, the first song was riddled by shallowness and endless repetition of phrases, such as “You’re welcome in this place” which I stopped counting after it was repeated ten times in a row, shortly followed by, “Have your way” for another ten plus times.
The “worship leader” would interrupt occasionally, telling personal stories and attempting to work up the crowd, which was working. At some point they attempted impromptu song which consisted of lyrics such as “oh your love is strong” which was repeated around twenty times or so, and “we still believe your signs and wonders,” “wonders are still what you do, it’s your character,” “bodies still being raised and giants still being slain,” and “we need a move” all repeated over and over again. It seemed more like a method for brainwashing than for worship as the worship leader would cry out “receive your miracles.”
As you look around you could see people violently shaking parts of their bodies, which resembled something more seizure-like than anything reverent. As I looked around, I was filled with both sadness and anger. Sadness because it seemed impossible that these people knew the God of the Bible and angry at the casualness and utter disregard before a Holy and righteous God. For a little more than an hour this nonsensical madness went on. People jumping up and down, rocking back and forth, working themselves into their own private frenzy, throwing in an occasionally shout, some violently jerking and sensually moaning and groaning, other people laughing ridiculously and joking around.
Again the song leader interrupted with “I believe tonight someone is going to receive his miracle, so press in,” followed by “Someone here has had their dreams die, but we are going to speak to those dreams prophetically. We call them out in Jesus’ name.” This was the time of “worship” at this small “church” in Mills River, N.C. called Rapha House, labeled as “a place of His presence.” No doubt there was a presence in that place, but it most assuredly was not the presence of God. The apostle Paul makes the profound statement concerning worship in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “But all things should be done decently and in order.” This was anything but decent and in order. It was, as John Macarthur so rightly observed, charismatic chaos.
Enter the wolf. The speaker that night was a self-proclaimed “revivalist” that seemingly got his “anointing” from having the right DNA and possibly grave soaking. (Which is when someone attempts to get character traits or “giftings” from the desired dead persons grave. This is often done by sprinkling oil on the grave and prayer for the dead persons “calling.”) He then began his talk by calling down the “fire of God,” quickly followed by “fresh waters.” Thank God He didn’t comply. We would have been consumed by fire and then washed away. It should be noted that when fire came down from heaven in scripture, people died. The fact that He didn’t answer this man is testimony to God’s longsuffering.
He continued with the proclamation that he was hearing from God in that moment saying, “I’m hearing the word gates, gates. God is longing to open the wells of revival in this area,” and like a ball game, the crowd went wild! I tried to be as charitable as possible as I sat on the back row and was reminded again of just how dangerous the charismatic movement has become. The speaker, Michael Thornton, began his talk by fabricating some hypotheticals concerning Genesis 28, namely that God does revivals in the same geographical locations. The scriptures used were far removed from any biblical context as he proceeded to insert assumptions and Jewish myths into the texts, so that he could build on his thesis. The assertion that God visits the same locations for revivals was made because “God is just like us,” he said and we like to stay in the same geographical locations as people. Of course, the claim that God is like us is absurd and to bring God down to be like man is blasphemous.
Ultimately his point was that the Carolina regions is a special spiritual gateway for mass revival. Of course, this was all given to him by special revelation to which no one else is privy. I suppose he didn’t know that the canon of scripture is closed. God isn’t giving any more direct and special revelation, which would by its very nature need to be added to the Bible as scripture. Clearly Revelation 22:18-19 was of no concern here.
Thornton went on to speak of all the miraculous things God wanted to do, occasionally throwing in some “tongue speaking” from stage; which was nothing more than made up gibberish, not to mention no interpretation as is mandated in scripture in 1 Corinthians 14:27. It’s no surprise that he made it clear that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was made evident by tongues. I suppose the Apostle Paul didn’t realize this when he made it clear that not everyone speaks in tongues (1 Cor. 13:30).
“Give up your theology!” It’s no surprise in the charismatic movement to hear someone from stage say something to the affect of “check your brains at the door” and this time was no different. The plea was blatant, “Give up your theology, so you can receive something better.” In other words, empty your mind and let me tell you what to believe. Well, a few important reminders here. Firstly, EVERYONE has a theology. Theology applied to an individual is simply what you believe about God. So you cannot give up your theology. You can only change it. Secondly, to possess good theology is to believe rightly concerning the Christian faith and the things of God. Why would anyone want to stop believing the right things of God? And yet, that is exactly what these false teachers want: to replace good theology with bad theology. Lastly, God requires the mind in worship. To empty your mind, or to somehow attempt to bypass the mind, is to rob God of what He rightfully deserves; not to mention it is a violation of the decalogue. Jesus himself said in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”(bold added). The speaker’s plea was in direct contradiction to the Lord Jesus Himself. The scary thing is how many offered their approval of his plea to “be rid of your mind.” It is precisely the subtleties of these messages that make this movement so very dangerous.
He went on to claim that our very identity in Christ was connected to the geographical location in which we lived, that your DNA can release Heaven on earth, that if you honor past revivalists God will give you that revivalist’s “anointing” and special covenants and you will inherit the mission from God they had. He made it clear that God “shows me stuff that no one knows”. He admitted to pouring oil on the grave of dead men to get their “anointing”. There isn’t anything godly about this kind of thing. This is pure witchcraft, paganism. He claimed that Jesus submitted to Elijah and that was when Jesus “got the keys.” Just think about that. Jesus, who was truly God, had to submit to his creation so that He could get power? Again, many nodding heads in the crowd. Again, the fact that God didn’t strike this man down is testimony to His willingness to endure our wickedness, His longsuffering towards outright blasphemy.
In ending, he asked the band to come on the stage and insisted that “Let’s just build it up”, which translated means, “I want to manipulate people with music.” Here he began to work up the crowd again, encouraging an emotional frenzy, then using the story of Jericho, said “There is something about shouting…God wants to break down some walls in your life, so once everyone in the room shouts there will be a shift in the city” and so he counted down and asked everyone in the room, about eighty or so people,to shout as loud as they could.
In the end, his entire talk was to build up the fact he had this special “revival anointing” and that God told him he had a dead man’s “mantle” and was to give it to the people. Creepy and demonic, is what that was. The entire night, scarcely a mention of Jesus. God the Father was relegated to the servant of man, God the Holy Spirit was made to be a magician with a bag of tricks, and God the Son, Jesus, took the back seat to this man’s special anointing. God was in every way blasphemed this night, the Holy Spirit mocked, and the passion of work of the cross reviled.
This, my friends, is the true nature of the Charismatic movement. It’s deceptive. Remember 2 Peter 2:1-3, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” This man, Michael Thornton, is most certain a false teacher, secretly introducing destructive heresies into the church of the Carolinas. Let us be watchful for wolves, because this night a young wolf surely cut his teeth on the flock of God.