LAUGHING PHENOMENA: Its History & Possible Effects on the Church
PART III: The Abrahamic Covenant And Joyous Feast Of Tabernacles
By Ed Tarkowski
Revival! We're hearing much about it these days, in various shades of definition. In discussing whether this is a time of revival or judgment, Rodney-Howard Browne, like Pat Robertson, avoided mention of the tribulation and predicted great things for America:
"The whole thing is we are living in the last days, and . . . there's perilous times. The Bible says men's hearts are failing for fear. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to prophesy that there's a coming judgment. The whole earth is groaning and waiting for the day of release. But, I believe God's not through with America. I believe America stands on the brink of the greatest revival, and I have to believe. If I didn't believe it, I would quit preaching because I believe God said in His word that the glory of the latter house will be greater than the former house. And for God just to discard America without sweeping it with a wave of revival I don't believe would be right. I believe God gives everybody an opportunity, and we're sitting with a whole generation that have never heard the gospel here in America, have never seen the power of God. Now, after the revival only God knows what's going to happen. But between now and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever that is, I believe, the greatest outpouring of the Spirit of God."(1)
Back in the early Seventies, there were predictions of a coming revival, defined as hearts coming to life again by the working of God's Spirit through the word of God. The expected results of revival included sharing the gospel with others, getting some maturity into new Christians, and having them go out and do the same, basically on a one-to-one basis. The purpose of revival was to bring the Kingdom to the hearts of men because Christ was going to return. His personal return was the one event the Church needed to bring in the Kingdom of God.
But the purpose of revival has been confused since then. Today's revival is associated with repentence, infilling, and becoming a member of God's endtime Army for the purpose of establishing His Kingdom on earth apart from Christ's visible return. This is a far cry from the hope of His coming to a Church under heavy persecution (Revelation 13:5-10), and Him personally establishing His victorious kingdom (Revelation 19:11-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). The new understandig of revival is a major example of a "prophetic statement" from Master Potter ministries that God is redefining His Church. But how we define revival and its expected results is crucial to how we relate to Christ.
Twenty-five years ago, the Church's view of the endtimes was basically premillennial (pre-, mid-, or posttribulationism). But things have drastically changed. Today there is a common mentality in some circles that agrees with Vineyard's John Wimber: "There is something higher than being [a denomination] and that is to be this end time army and involved in this greater prize of bringing everything on the earth and above the earth and below the earth to the feet of Jesus."(2)
How did so many Christians come from there to here in so short a time? Looking back, it seems that the Word of Faith and Positive Thinking teachings struck the first spark. These did much to turn hearts to a self-centered life rather than a God-centered one. As hearts glowed with proclamations such as "Every promise in the book is mine," "Claim your inheritance," and "Take the land," Restoration teaching waited for its opportunity.(3) Then when the Church at large finally realized that a New World Order based on New Age spirituality was planned for our future, Restorationsts made their move. For years they'd preached that the Church was to bring in the Kingdom of God, but no one, particularly Evangelicals, had paid attention. Those pesky beliefs about tribulation and rapture had blinded the Church to their truth, but now Christians wanted political rights! The inheritance promised by Word of Faith teachers coincided nicely with the Restorationist's promise of a Christian Kingdom on earth. "Take the land" was applied to a literal land, and the Christianizing of society and its governments became a real possibility. The emphasis was no longer on the hope of Jesus' coming to save both Israel and the Church. Instead, a united intercessory Church turned to an Old Testament promise made to Israel: "If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray; . . . I . . . will restore their land."(4) In all the excitement, the word "revival" was subtly redefined, and hardly anyone noticed. Finally, after 25 years of incremental change in Church thinking, the Restorationists stood on the revised purpose for revival and announced, "A great move of God is beginning! Revival is here!" The new good news was that God had an endtime army which would march through the land to victory, and each Christian was a potential soldier. And when "the fire fell" through Rodney Howard-Browne and the Toronto Blessing, Christians from all over the world came to Toronto to enlist. Now the restoration of dominion began to merge with the supernatural potential of the Latter Rain teachings, and revival took on even more meaning. God's Army would be equipped with victory over death, and the Power Evangelism of Latter Rain would be directed to Restorationism's objectives. Jesus' cross became the symbolic sword of this new gospel and lost even more of its godly meaning. The gospel of sin, Christ's shed blood and the cross, and the promise of His personal, visible return in victory was overtaken by the gospel of revival. Christians from all over the world saw the flames burning bright and were drawn to its light, and a new unity began to arise.
In his book "Vengeance Is Ours," Al Dager makes an interesting observation about the two streams of Restorationist thought within today's Church:
"There are nuances to the philosophical approach to dominion, but the various movements can all be classified under two basic headings: 1) Reconstruction, which establishes an intellectual basis for dominion theology, and is basically non-charismatic; 2) what I call "Charismatic Dominionism" for lack of any term previously forthcoming.
"The latter encompasses most of the factions apart from the Reconstruction movement and makes up the bulk of the dominionist community. Its common element is its adoption of major teachings from the Latter Rain Movement of the late forties and early fifties.
"There are indications that Reconstruction and Charismatic Dominionism are finding common ground for unity in spite of some Reconstructionists' denunciation of charismatism." (5)
While the Latter Rain influence was subtly worked in charismatic circles, other large segments of the Church were drawn together through the religio-political movement. Pat Robertson was one of the first to bring about a working relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals. When he later applauded Toronto and Browne, whose teachings are preparing the church by empowering it for signs and wonders, he drew the charismatic/pentecostal groups into the mix. This is a good example of what appears to be the next phase of this revival: the meshing of the political, social and "signs and wonders" forces within the Church. Scarey? The supernatural power of the "Laughing manifestation" tied to Latter Rain teachings tied to one of the most prominent figures in the Religious Right should frighten even the youngest of the Lord's sheep.
The common ground for unity that Dager describes has been plowed and is ready for the planting of revival. If the laughing phenomena continues to unite with the political agenda, what would eventually sprout up from that common ground would be the Latter Rain's Army of the Manifest Sons. Is such a unity possible? I believe that what we wrote in Part II indicates that it is probable. The revelations guiding the Church may be "new," but they are also consistent. The various leaders of this "new move of God" hold to, or at the least, pursue the Restorationist view of the endtimes, and they are in the midst of a major takeover.
While such ideas may be new to many reading this series, it is no surprise to some. Even Jeremy Rifkin, new Age author of the "Emerging Order" of twenty years ago, almost perfectly described the events of our day:
"We are in the early stages of a second Protestant Reformation. . . . "While Charismatics are generating a potential liberating impulse, the more mainline evangelical movement is beginning to provide the necessary reformulation of theological doctrine that is essential for the creation of a new covenant vision and worldview. . . .
"If the charismatic and evangelical strains of the new Christian renewal movement come together and unite a liberating energy with a new covenant vision for society, it is possible that a great religious awakening will take place, one potentially powerful enough to incite a second Protestant reformation.
"[Rifkin said he would examine] the interrelationship between the great economic transformation taking place and the evangelical awakening that is spreading across America and speculate about the likelihood of a second Protestant reformation emerging between now and the year A.D. 2000." (6)
The traditional Church is founded on the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus, through whom individuals of all nations can receive the promised Spirit by faith in Him. But there are evidences that the strong unity described by Rifkin is now emerging, as well as his "new covenant vision and worldview" for society. Thanks to Latter Rain teaching and the prophetic arm of the laughing movement, a corporate child is being birthed into the world. This child points not to Christ, but to itself as the one through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed.
Latter Rain teaching misinterprets the five verses in Galatians which refer to blessings given to Abraham. For example, British teacher Alan Vincent says that God promised to bless every family on the face of the earth through Abraham's seed, which is the Church. But carefully read these verses:
"The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).
"Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you'" (Galatians 3:7-8).
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 6:14).
"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
Taken together, these verses mean that God spoke promises to Abraham and to his one seed, who is Christ. What He promised through Christ was the Holy Spirit and the gospel, which would be offered to all nations. This blessing of Abraham would come through Jesus, who FULFILLED the promise, and be given to the HEIRS, who are all who belong to Christ.
Four points need to be made here:
Wimber: "Season of new beginnings." Cited Gen. 18:10, Sarah's response to God: "Shall I have this pleasure in my old age? . . . This was a word of life from the Lord, and it touched me deeply."(7)
Mode: "God is romancing his Church, and through that romance he says I'm going to then impregnate and through the impregnation will then come new birth, . . ."(8)
Cerullo: God "will make you pregnant with [His] reality. . . ." through "sacred . . . revelations . . . never heard preached anywhere."(9)
Foster/Cornwall: "I am now impregnating some of my mature, older ministers with truth [not now being taught]. . . . to carry that truth to full gestation and . . . to raise it up once it is delivered."(10)
Hickey: "God is new and He's a growing person as anything that is alive. . . . Just let God be God in you as a child, as a child be. . . . never old, ever young, growing, a growing thing."(11)
Master Potter: "Prophetically, the child Isaac, which means 'Laughter,' is being released in nation after nation as the new wine is being passed."(12)
Endtime Handmaidens: "Sarah is a type of the Church. The Church is 'withered,' and its womb is dried up in many places, but God is sending a revival of joy to awaken and renew the Church so that she can bring forth the 'man-child' of joy, even the army of overcomers who will go forth in the likeness and image of the Lord in these last days."(13)
Mode: "We're in the romancing and impregnation stage right now but we've got to pray in and cry out for the harvest. . . . This is the pre-stage of it."(14)
A new covenant vision and worldview are being set in place by means of replacement theology, which applies certain select Old Testament passages to today's Church. We shall see that Wimber's "season of new beginnings" is the Feast of Tabernacles, and the "new" sacred truths being revealed are built on the Latter Rain teachings. In a taped talk entitled "God's 'Suddenlys'," Alan Vincent indicates that he, too, was inspired by the type of Sarah's child Isaac, meaning "laughter," but this time as "Abraham's seed." Vincent's new revelation brings together Isaac with the Abrahamic covenant and the feasts of Israel. He speaks of God using His body (the Church) to laugh (Isaac), a laugh that will shake the world:
"But I tell you what God said to me was, He said, 'Alan, I am moving the Church from the Day of Atonement to Tabernacles. I'm, frankly, just beginning to laugh.' And He took me to Psalm 2, verse 4, where it says, 'the rulers of this world will take council together against the Lord and against His Christ.' And then it says, 'The Lord will laugh, he will have them in derision,' and if you look up those Hebrew words, they are words of great strength. You get a picture of God rolling on the floor, laughing at the absolute ludicrousness that the devil could possibly frustrate His eternal purpose. As if the devil could stop him fulfilling His covenant to Abraham. As if the devil could even stop Him from using the Church. He said, 'The whole idea makes me laugh.' He said, 'I'm starting to use my body to laugh,' 'cause, He said, 'The Day of Atonement is over and Tabernacles is coming, and I'm getting ready to laugh and I'm getting ready to roar, and I tell you this whole world is going to feel the shaking of that laughter and the power of that roar.'"(15)
How will Vincent's God fulfill His covenant promise to Abraham through the Church? According to this word, it will be by moving the seed of Abraham into the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, a celebration in which God uses His corporate body to laugh.
How appropriate that the laughing phenomena is called the Toronto Blessing because Alan Vincent considers the covenant promise of Abraham's seed ("Isaac," "laughter") to be a blessing for every family on the face of the earth. Later, he relates that this blessing must include a rejection of the "rapture theory." In order to come to faith about its inheritance, the Church must look past Pentecost to the Feast Of Tabernacles, or the Ingathering of the Harvest. Working out of his mastery of replacement theology, Vincent continues,
"They [the 120 at Pentecost] came to faith about their inheritance. If you read on in Acts chapter three, you'll find in verse 25 Peter again explaining what was going on. He says, . . . '[God's] had this on His agenda for millennium, and now you're privileged to see the fulfillment of all of that the prophets have said.' That was true, of course, for the nation of Israel, it was true for the city of Jerusalem, now it's becoming true for every single city on the face of the earth because God promised through Abraham, He said, 'I will, through your seed, which is the Church, every family on the face of the earth is going to be blessed. Every single people group, every mishpachah(16), every ethnic group, every tribe, every household, every gathering together of any community for any reason which gives them an identity.' He said, 'Now every single mishpachah on the face of the whole earth is gonna' be blessed just the way this one [Jerusalem] is being blessed by turning every one of them away from their iniquities.'"(17)
How does Vincent propose to turn every city away from its iniquities? Through a combination of Toronto's supernatural power and intercession to claim the land:
"So, . . . if you can't carry the whole world on your heart [and intercede for it], carry some of the mishpachahs on your heart. Get a nation, get a city, get a tribe, get a people and say, 'God, you promised Abraham, seven full times you repeated it, you swore it by an oath, every time you talked about a covenant, you said this is the heart of the thing.' And soon as the Spirit comes and starts to shake the city of Jerusalem, Peter says, 'Oh, this is what the prophets have talked about!' This is just one city experiencing what every city must experience. Otherwise, God's the biggest liar there ever was, and of course, that's impossible. I'm saying that quite shockingly. Beloved, God HAS to keep His word. It has to happen. Why should God keep saying again and again, 'This is what I'm going to do through the seed,' and then Jesus coming in the sudden rapture theory, and spoiling God's covenant promises to Abraham? It's impossible for Jesus to come until these things are fulfilled.
"And so, they came to faith about their inheritance because he goes on to say, 'You are the sons of the prophets.' And you know the word in the NIV, the word "huios"(18) is actually translated, 'You are the heirs' because that's the main meaning of the word. You're the people that are going to inherit every word that the prophets ever said. It's yours to go and get by faith. You can have it by faith. He said, 'You are the sons of all that God promised Abraham,' saying, 'Through your seed every single family on the face of the earth will be blessed.'. . . They were looking at the promise of that. Soon the city was in uproar, and in the short space of time they were accused of filling the world, of turning the world upside down, and filling Jerusalem with their teaching."(19)
In Part II, we discussed replacement theology and quoted part of Mark Dupont's Toronto prophecy:
"Like Jerusalem, Toronto will end up being a sending out place. It is of God that there are so many internationals in this area. The Lord is going to be sending out many people, filled with His Spirit with strong gifting, vision, and love to the nations on all continents."(20)
So the Spirit shook Jerusalem at Pentecost. Now Toronto, likened to Jerusalem, has been shaken and also become "one city experiencing what every city must experience." But this outpouring is not through the Feast of Pentecost, but through the Feast of Tabernacles. Why? Because Latter Rain teachers say Pentecost is not enough; it must come to maturity in Tabernacles.
In an article entitled "Beyond Pentecost" in Rick Joyner's Morning Star Journal, Robin McMillan and Steve Thompson wrote of their new understanding of Israel's feasts as applied to an endtime Church "stirred to move out into [its] communities":
"Individuals and congregations are breaking into uncontrollable holy laughter, often lasting hours. Many people appear to be so spiritually 'drunk' in the joy of the Lord that they cannot even walk or talk. Although these manifestations appear abnormal and questionable to many, people are being profoundly touched by God. Not only are healings and deliverances accompanying these manifestations, but entire congregations are being renewed as their members are stirred to move out into their communities in the love and power of God. After observing this firsthand and experiencing it in our own congregations, we began searching the Scriptures to uncover the meaning of this visitation. Our search led us to the great feasts of Israel."(21)
The one verse always tied to this "revival" spreading across the globe is "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then the end shall come" (Matthew 24:14). But what gospel? In their article, McMillan and Thompson also replace Christ and Israel with the Church. They assert that the gospel was foreshadowed in three Old Testament feasts of Israel, based on Exodus 23:15-16:
PASSOVER: celebration of deliverance from the Angel of death while in slavery. Christ our Passover has been slain (1 Corinthians 5:7-8); for the saved, Passover has been celebrated.(22)
PENTECOST: the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, the reality of the Old Testament giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. Pentecost, according to McMillan and Thompson, "is not the complete harvest. . . . it is not enough."(23)
TABERNACLES: "There is another realm of spiritual experience typified in scripture by the Feast of Tabernacles. Until we understand and partake of this feast, as we have both Passover and Pentecost, we will never fulfill our destiny and calling. We must discover the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles and 'celebrate' it along with Passover and Pentecost. . . . "What God did among Jews in Jerusalem, He is going to do among humanity and worldwide. Pentecost will come to maturity in the Feast of Tabernacles."(24)
Scripturally, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorated the desert wanderings of Israel after her exodus from Egypt, a time when the Jews constructed homemade booths, or tabernacles, for shelter. This Feast also marked the end of the agricultural year in Israel, when the harvest of the orchards and vines was celebrated with joy and gladness. But in Latter Rain teaching, the completion of the Feast will come only in the endtimes. According to replacement theology, the Church's experience of Tabernacles would begin after it passes through a "dry bones" period symbolic of Israel's wandering in the desert. For some, this prophecy was fulfilled by a 40-year period of dryness just now ending in the Church, and the time of joyful celebrations of the harvest is now upon us.
Al Dager gives a basic foundation for the Latter Rain movement's replacement theology in his book, "Vengeance Is Ours":
"In 1951, [George Warnock] wrote his book, The Feast of Tabernacles, in which he laid out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement. He taught that the Church was about to usher in the completion of God's feasts through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth.
"Essentially, this Latter Rain teaching implies that the three great annual feasts of the Lord in Israel's worship (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) typify the whole Church Age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, and consummating in 'the manifestations of the Sons of God' - the 'overcomers' who will become perfected and step into immortality in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
"According to Warnock, this will be accomplished through the restoration of the Church in unity . . ."(25)
Beginning in the 1950s, denominational walls have been slowly but steadily coming down. The barrier between Pentecostals and Charismatics was the first to go, but thanks to the drawing power of Restorationism and now Toronto's laughing phenomena, others are crumbling as well. Referring to the Toronto Blessing, English clergyman Sandy Miller said, "It's not confined to any one denomination. . . . It's happening across the board . . . all over the place."(26)
Now forty years after Warnock promised "restoration of the Church in unity," McMillan and Thompson also associate the current drive for unity with the endtime Feast of Tabernacles. It's interesting that this required unity again carries the sense of birthing and new revelations. They write,
"If you wanted to be where His Spirit was birthing a fresh revelation of Him at the beginning of this century, you had to find Him once again in a stable, among the makeshift benches at 312 Azusa Street. Only the humble are able to follow the Lord in the place that He chooses.
"This same humility enables us to walk in unity with our brothers as well. During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel dwelt in booths, the rich and poor alike. As they left those things which defined their station in life and separated them into different classes, they celebrated the goodness of God in unity, without division."(27)
Because denominational differences fade under the influence of the laughing phenomena, it will be very useful in bringing about the restoration of a united Church as well as supplying the manpower to handle the coming harvest. In their article, McMillan and Thompson envision the joy of this great harvest associated with Tabernacles:
"The manifestations of joy and spiritual drunkeness which we are seeing and hearing in these days are only the beginning of the great rain of the Holy Spirit that God promised to pour out in these times. They are a witness that He is bringing restoration and hope to people for the largest harvest of souls that has ever occurred - the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Tabernacles."(28)
According to Dager, Warnock taught that the Church would "usher in the completion of God's feasts through perfection of the saints and their dominion over the earth."(29) The Feast of Tabernacles in particular will be completed through Church unity, the harvest, and the manifestation of the Sons of God who will take dominion over the earth and establish God's Kingdom. And because Israel's feasts and God's covenant with Abraham have now been conjoined, "Sarah" and her child "Isaac" will figure even more greatly in the joyful celebration of Tabernacles.
The fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles is approaching, say McMillan and Thompson, and a united Church will soon be rejoicing in the endtime ingathering of souls. But they also promise a release of maturity into the Church:
". . . our participation in a spiritual celebration of the feast of Tabernacles is the key to God releasing fullness and maturity in the church. It is a feast of joy and release, bringing restoration. It is also a feast of humility, unity and ultimately, the ingathering of many lost people. It is the celebration of the harvest."(30)
Where will this "fullness and maturity" be found? In the coming forth of the Manifest Sons of God. The teaching on the Manifest Sons is the culmination of all other Latter Rain doctrines. It's based on Romans 8:19, which historically and in context refers to the Second Coming of Christ, when believers will be changed and caught up with Him in the air, thus being manifested, or revealed, to the world as sons of God.(31) But in the aberrant beliefs of the Latter Rain movement, the Manifest Sons of God will be revealed before Christ's return, and will be mightily used by God to prepare the world for His coming by establishing His kingdom.
The teaching has two main aspects. Individuals become Manifest Sons of God. But together, they are a corporate body, often referred to as God's endtime army, based on Joel 2.(32) The Manifest Sons will be perfected through the new, progressive revelations of a restored ministry of apostles and prophets. Steve Montgomery, a critic of the movement, describes this transformation:
"'Christ' Individually: Jesus is considered the Pattern Son. He was the first to make it as a divine, immortal sinless Manifest Son of God. This accomplishment will be duplicated by each individual who, by following Jesus the Pattern Son, becomes a Manifest Son of God. To achieve this goal is to reach Full Sonship, perfection, completion, immortalization, glorification, body salvation, or the third salvation, at which point the Glory of the Father is to inhabit the physical body as typified by the feast of Tabernacles and demonstrated by the Transfiguration of Christ. This Christ Company, now individually manifest as Sons of God, would then be revealed to the world as Many Saviours who would take dominion (establish Theocracy) and execute judgment (annihilation of those they deem as ungodly).
"'Christ' Corporately: They consider the corporate body of Christ to be Christ. The body of Christ is thought to be a literal extension of the incarnation of Christ. This causes both scriptures that refer to His ruling the nations and judging the world to find fulfillment through themselves. A distinction is made between Christ's coming, appearing or manifestation to rule and judge the world through the Sons of God and His later individual, personal return. He is unable to return until the stage is set by the establishment of His rule and reign through the sons of God subduing the nations, or taking dominion, and executing judgement on the ungodly. This would usher in the new age, the new world order, the theocracy, divine government, divine order or kingdom age."(33)
Because Christ cannot incarnate in a divided body, it's crucial to the Manifest Sons doctrine that the Church be united. Along with the political coalitions of the Restorationists and the signs and wonders' gathering of the Browne-Toronto anointing, some parachurch ministries are uniting more of the multitudes needed for an endtime army of such magnitude. An article in Jewell van der Merwe's "Discernment" newsletter states:
"In a recent interview in response to a question as to whether the Promise Keepers could be fulfilling the prophecy in Joel of raising an army, James Ryle answered, 'Yes . . . 300,000 men have come together so far this year under Promise Keepers . . . Never in history have 300,000 men come together except to go to war. These men are gathered for War.'"(34)
According to the O Timothy newsletter, "Promise Keepers is a men's movement started . . . by members of John Wimber's Vineyard Fellowship."(35) Ryle, who has ministered with John Wimber and Paul Cain,(36) is pastor of the Boulder Valley Vineyard and, in association with Boulder member Bill McCartney, founded Promise Keepers in 1990.(37) Ryle is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Promise Keepers, a "'non-denominational,' parachurch organization [whose stated goal] is to celebrate biblical manhood and motivate men toward Christlike masculinity."(38)
Ryle isn't the only one to promise endtime warriors. During a Pastors' Meeting at the Airport Vineyard, John Arnott said,
"And so now we're starting to see people prophetically acting like lions and oxen and eagles and even warriors. . . . it's a wonderful thing and we've seen it spontaneous in Steve Wood's church from St. John, New Brunswick on the east coast. We had all four of those manifestations happening at the same time. So what did the man look like? He looked like a warrior, just yelling Ahhhhh!!!! . . . [It] just may be the Holy Spirit putting an empowering, like a warrior, on them.
". . . . So, when God starts to roar like a lion, you know, beware! And if you read, I think it's Isaiah 42. . . . He's saying that 'too long have I been silent. Too long have I said nothing. But now I am going forth like a warrior to bring vengeance upon those of my adversaries.' And, wouldn't it be wonderful if the Lord would start to move in power and restore the church to its proper place and make us the head and not the tail?
"Isaiah 42:13, 'The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies. For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and I pant. I will lay waste the mountains and the hills and dry up all their vegetation,' etc. "So the Lord is, at some point, is going to go forth like a warrior, like He has in time past.
"And so that brings in a whole lot of eschatological questions, you know. Is this the time? I don't know. Is this the time Jesus is coming? Will He find faith on the earth when He returns? . . . Yes, Lord, we're going to go for it, we're gonna try to do our part to bring the kingdom of God here. And, I don't know what it all is going to look like in the aftermath, but I just cannot believe God would go to so much trouble to save fallen humanity and say 'Well, we gave it our best shot, but we're miserable failures,' you know. Can you? There's this poor little remnant hiding in a cave somewhere waiting for the rapture to happen. I just don't see that as a Sovereign Lord. Everything He does, He does well."(39)
Again, because it's essential to the Latter Rain agenda, the tribulation, the rapture, and Christ returning to subdue the nations are all dismissed. The Church will bring in the kingdom of God through its Warriors, the Manifest Sons of the Latter Rain. Furthermore, the judgment of God will fall on all who break His covenant and do not follow His ways. This judgment will be administered by Joel's Army, the corporate body of Manifest Sons now come to full stature. Hard to believe? Look at this word from the Toronto Vineyard in which Wes Campbell relates a 1984 vision concerning the Church:
"And the church was gathered in a large civil war-type big stately mansion, a big ballroom, and they were dancing. And they were dressed in colorful clothes and happy, and they were moving and they were laughing and they were dancing and they were just having the wonderful party of their life.
"And he looked at that and Bob began to laugh and he said 'Look at them dance, look at them have fun.' And an angel came and said 'Wait. Not yet.' And then what happened is that strangely in the ballroom, the crowd began to change, and they began to take sides, and they began to have blue coats and gray coats, and in a moment civil war broke out. A bloody civil war broke out. James Ryle has had a similar vision. The Lord even showed him how the blue coats stand for the revelatory, the revelation, and the grey for grey matter, man's wisdom. And in this context the north fought the south and the south fought the north, and the south wanted to keep the people enslaved. They wanted their money. They wanted their bodies. They wanted their personhood to keep the system going. And the north said, 'No! Freedom! Freedom!'
"And they went into a terrible fight, and it was father against son, brother against brother, and a man's enemies were in his own house. And the angel said this: 'There won't be a house that escapes weeping.' We do not know how long this time of visitation will continue in this capacity. But when the time is up you run with all your might, because as this begins to be known throughout the entire Christian community of the world, there will come a polarization. There always has come a polarization.
"And there eventually will become wars. There will be wars in your household. Your own family may not understand what's going on. Your own family may turn against you. That doesn't mean they're evil. That just means as Christians they haven't seen this aspect of the Holy Spirit. 'Cause they're Christians. We're talking about Christians. But the end of the vision was this: that after the time of bloodshed, the Lord was going to heal the breach. And then the harvest will come in."(40)
There is no such thing prophesied in Scripture, and the very idea in the light of all we have shared is chilling.
Next Month: PART IV: Laughing - Deeper Realities
Promise Keepers: A Militant Unity?
By Ed Tarkowski and Sarah Leslie
Promise Keepers, a rapidly growing ecumenical men's movement, may be the best tool for those holding the Manifest Sons of God doctrines to market their beliefs to the rest of the American church. These beliefs, which are foundational to the Laughing Phenomenon associated with Rodney Howard-Browne, are now entering mainstream churches of all denominations via Promise Keepers. The Manifest Sons of God believe that Christ cannot incarnate in a divided body; therefore, it's crucial that the Church be united. Another term for this is Joel's Army. Promise Keepers has been likened to an army. An article in Jewell van der Merwe's Discernment newsletter states:
"In a recent interview in response to a question as to whether the Promise Keepers could be fulfilling the prophecy in Joel of raising an army, James Ryle answered, 'Yes... 300,000 men have come together so far this year under Promise Keepers... Never in history have 300,000 men come together except to go to war. These men are gathered for War.'"
According to the O Timothy newsletter, "Promise Keepers is a men's movement started... by members of John Wimber's Vineyard Fellowship. Ryle, who has ministered with John Wimber and Paul Cain, is pastor of the Boulder Valley Vineyard and, in association with Boulder member Bill McCartney, founded Promise Keepers in 1990. Ryle is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Promise Keepers, a 'non-denominational,' parachurch organization [whose stated goal] is to celebrate biblical manhood and motivate men toward Christlike masculinity." Vineyard head John Wimber has given his wholehearted approval to the Laughing Phenomenon.
Ryle isn't the only one to promise endtime warriors. During a Pastors' Meeting at the Airport Vineyard in Toronto, where the Laughing Phenomenon is ongoing, Rev. John Arnott said:
"And so now we're starting to see people prophetically acting like lions and oxen and eagles and even warriors... it's a wonderful thing and we've seen it spontaneous... We had all four of those manifestations happening at the same time. So what did the man look like? He looked like a warrior, just yelling Ahhhhh!!!!....[It] just may be the Holy Spirit putting an empowering, like a warrior, on them."
Promise Keepers has incorporated key doctrines of the Manifest Sons of God into their material. The February 1995 issue of Suitable Helpers, a newsletter for women participating in Promise Keepers expresses that believers can become Christ Incarnate:
"Our Lord is calling out a great host of men ready and willing to become 'Christs' in their homes: Promise Keepers. In grand, bold sweeps, God has mustered an army."
Noticing the potential political nature of this men's movement is none other than The New Age Journal, which ran an article favorable to Promise Keepers in its April 1995 edition. Writer Jeff Wagenheim noted the odd combination of New Age men's movement ideology (Robert Bly's pantheism) combined with the political evangelicalism of Pat Robertson:
"...despite the group's assertions to the contrary, Promise Keepers is an organization with vast political influence. The fact that hundreds of thousands of men are being actively encouraged to adhere to a highly conservative set of values and to work to instill those values in their communities and nation should not just be a matter of theological interest."
An historical precedent for a military-style religious movement such as Promise Keepers can be found in Germany during the 30's. According to author Richard Terrell in his provocative book, Resurrecting the Third Reich (Huntington House, 1994), orthodox Christianity was supplanted by the German Volkish faith:
"What was to take possession of the German consciousness was a militant romanticism... According to this way of thinking, the Divine Spirit is manifested in the spirit of a people, in their collective genius and total culture or Volkgeist... Germany developed a kind of communal mysticism which contained its own Teutonic concept of a chosen people, called to redeem civilization from its decadence." (p. 44)
Terrell describes the advent of this full-blown religion:
"...rallies were glorious pageants that stirred the emotions, which depended not on any revelation of Scripture, but on pure feeling... Even today, still photographs of these meetings have a powerful and gripping presence...
"The Volkish concept of the social organism was effectively symbolized in mass meetings that expressed a sense of eternity, awe, and mystery, effects stimulated by cathedral of light nighttime mass meetings in which antiaircraft lights sent brilliant shafts of illumination into the darkened sky." (p. 59)
Is Promise Keepers creating a new folk religion? The large mass rallies, the exaltation of emotion over reason, the lack of doctrinal integrity, the taking of oaths (the 7 promises), the focus on fatherland and fatherhood, and the ecumenical inclusion of aberrant esoteric doctrines bears a disconcerting similarity to an era which gave rise to one of the most dreadful armies in history. The infiltration of MSOG doctrines into Promise Keepers (via Vineyard) combined with New Age ideologies (via Robert Bly and Robert Hicks) appears to create a new American folk theology: pantheism, the idolatry of self, the belief in a divine mandate to take the land, the superiority of a group, and the necessity of group hysteria.
While many in the church are jumping wholeheartedly into the Laughing Phenomenon and Promise Keepers, it behooves the rest of the Church to take a sober, steady look at the historical, theological and philosophical underpinnings of these popular movements of our times.
PART III. AND THE LORD WILL ROAR FROM ZION
One phenomena that occurs frequently during laughing meetings is people making animal noises, such as roaring lion sounds. These are explained by some favoring the phenomena as being prophetic in nature, meaning a man roaring like a lion is God prophesying that He is coming soon as a roaring lion.
For instance, Amos 1:2a says,
"The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem."
But this is immediately explained that this means judgement:
"And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither" (Amos 1:2b)
The idea of God describing Himself as roaring from Zion, then, would mean that great judgement is coming, not revival as explained by the supporters of the Toronto Blessing. Amos also explains to us how to understand this "roaring":
God commanded some of his prophets to do some strange things, e.g. to lie on one side for a long time or to marry a prostitute. But again, there are two main differences:
(This sidebar was taken from a study by a researcher and brother in the Lord from Germany.)
(1) Christian Television Network (CTN - Clearwater, FL), "The Good Life" program. Hosted by Bob and Molly DeAnrea. Guests: Rodney and Adonica Howard-Browne, 2 hour video, broadcast April 20, 1994.
(2) Jewel van der Merwe, [Critique of] Joel's Army, Discernment Ministries, p. 21 citing John Wimber, Docklands Conference, England, 1990.
(3) Restorationist: my catch-all term for a person wanting to establish the Kingdom on earth before Christ personally, visibly returns to establish it Himself, e.g., Reconstructionist, Kingdom Now, Dominionist, etc.
(4) See 2 Chronicles 7:14.
(5) Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours, 1990, p. 48.
(6) Jeremy Rifkin with Ted Howard, The Emerging Order: God in the Age of Scarcity, 1979, p. ix-xii.
(7) John Wimber, "Seasons of New Beginnings," File NEWBEG.TXT, 23879 Bytes, Compuserve, CIN-4, Lib 2. Originally published in the May/June 1994 edition of Vineyard Reflections newsletter published by Association of Vineyard Churches. John Wimber, Publisher; Bill Henderson, editor.
(8) Testimony of Byron Mode of Dallas, Toronto pastor's meeting on October 12, 1994.
(9) Morris Cerullo, London School of Ministry promotional material, 1994.
(10) Pat Robertson interview with Judson Cornwall citing Glenn Foster, 700 Club, Family Channel, June 9, 1994.
(11) Wallace Hickey, prophecy delivered during Rodney Howard-Browne service, videotape, aired on TBN May 1994.
(12) Master Potter, Prophetic Insights For The '90's: Quarterly Perspectives from Jill Austin, "The Great Intruder" Passion & Fire Conferences, Summer '94.
(13) Discernment newsletter, Jewel van der Merwe, LATTER RAIN and The Rise of Joel's Army, p. 5 citing End-Time Handmaidens, Angel Letter #2, September/October 1994.
(15) Cassette tape of Alan Vincent service, 1994. Location unknown.
(16) Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: Hebrew 4940. mishpachah; from 8192; a "family," i.e. circle of relatives; fig. a "class" (of persons), a "species" (of animals) or "sort" (of things); by extens. a "tribe" or "people":-family, kin(dred). Italics replaced with quotes.
(18) Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: Greek 5207. huios; appar. a prim. word; a "son" (sometimes of animals), used very widely of immed., remote or fig. kinship:-child, foal, son. "son" originally in quotes and italics.
(20) Mantle of Praise Ministries, Inc. A two part prophecy by Mark Dupont concerning revival coming to part of the church of Toronto. May 1992 & July 1993, Part One: May 92, While In Toronto For The Area Of Southern Ontario, Point E.
(21) Robin McMillan and Steve Thompson, Teaching: "Beyond Pentecost," The Morning Star Journal, Vol. 4 No. 3, 1994, p. 42.
(22) Ibid., pp. 42-43.
(23) Ibid., pp. 43-44.
(24) Ibid., pp. 43-44, 48; italics deleted.
(25) Dager, p. 62.
(26) The 700 Club Fact Sheet, "HOLY LAUGHTER: Bringing Revival To The Church?" as featured on the 700 Club Newswatch, October 27, 1994.
(27) McMillan and Thompson, p. 46.
(28) Ibid., p. 48.
(29) Dager, p. 62.
(30) McMillan and Thompson, p. 44.
(31) Romans 8:19: "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed."
(32) There is no scriptural basis in the Old or New Testament for the endtime army of God proposed by Latter Rain doctrine. The celestial signs of Joel 2:10-11 place the Lord's army with Him at the time of His personal, visible return in the sky. These verses find their fulfillment in Matthew 24:19-30, Revelation 6:12-17, and 19:11-6, especially v. 14.
(33) Reprint of article by Steve Montgomery, "An Introduction of the Potential Social Significance of the Doctrine of the Manifestation of the Sons of God," 1985 in Constance Cumbey's New Age Monitor, p. 13-14, May 1989.
(34) Jewel van der Merwe, LATTER RAIN and The Rise Of Joel's Army, Discernment, October-December 1994, p. 5 citing End-Time Handmaidens, Inc., Angel Letter #2, Sept./Oct. 1994.
(35) O Timothy newsletter, "Charismatic-led Promise Keepers promotes radical ecumenism," Volume 12, Issue 1, 1995, p. 22.
(36) Discernment, October-December 1994, p. 7.
(37) O Timothy, Volume 12, Issue 1, 1994, p, 22. According to this item, the first president of Promise Keepers, Randy Phillips, "also is a member of Boulder Vineyard."
(38) Promise Keepers: Ecumenical "Macho-Men" For Christ, Discernment Ministries, 1994.
(39) John Arnott, Pastors' Meeting, Airport Vineyard, Toronto, Ontario, Wednesday, October 19, 1994.
(40) Toronto Airport Vineyard meeting, tape transcript, October 14, 1994.