Lies for the Glory of God?

Lee Grady, self-critical publisher of the American magazine "Charisma", wrote the following after the double-life of Todd Bentley ended in shambles:

A prominent Pentecostal evangelist...said to me: 'I'm now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment' ("Life After Lakeland: Sorting out the Confusion" in, 13 August, 2008).

A recent edition of ideaSpektrum (the weekly magazine of the German Evangelical Alliance) reports that youth pastor Michael Guglielmucci of one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Australia has been exposed as a liar. He faked a cancer disease for two years in order to cover up his real problem, a long-term addiction to pornography (ideaSpektrum, 3rd of September, p. 35).

One of the most popular Pentecostal evangelists of the 1970s and 1980s, Jimmy Swaggart, had similar problems. He experienced a vision during his Spirit-baptism in his teen years that apparently fulfilled itself. Years later he was forced to painfully admit his life long addiction to pornography and that this often drove him to prostitutes.

Paul Cain was one of the mainstays of the prophetical movement. He received astonishing revelations. John Wimber claimed that Cain was a prophet that never erred. Later it came out that he was a homosexual and alcoholic.

Roberts Liardon presented great Pentecostal miracle-healers in his book "God's Generals". He was banned from the pulpit for three months because of his homosexual relationship with his youth pastor. This book is actually – apart from a few exceptions – a disturbing documentation of the errors and escapades of these so-called "generals", whose gross heresies are often played down or painted in a positive light. One of the "glorious" characters mentioned in the book is William Branham. Lee Grady, quoted above, complains in this context:

Branham embraced horrible deception near the end of his ministry before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah - and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits (ibid).

Fabricated reports of healing and other dishonesties are, unfortunately, not very seldom in many of the "super-spiritual" circles.

Evangelical missionaries call this "transcendantal trickery" – where one imagines it possible to help "faith" with invented miracles and healings.

A sad example of this problem is the mother of David Berg, who founded several churches based on a false claim to a miraculous healing. Apparently this "recipe" was successful. Simply make up, for example, a story of healing or some other wonder, exaggerate more or less about it and "church growth" will come about (Deborah Davis, "The Children of God – The Inside Story", Zondervan, 1984).

But God is not mocked. David Berg later called himself Moses David und became the founding father of the "Children of God". This philosophy that the end justifies the means took one of its worst developments in this movement. Moses David sent his female disciples out to the streets to do "flirty fishing", i.e., for prostitution, so that they could be "bait for Jesus".

The worldly media delighted in exploiting this tragic development. Only God knows how much reproach and shame was heaped upon the name of our Savior through it all.

"Truth is decorative, though not necessarily useful for success." (German: Wahrhaftigkeit ist eine Zier, doch weiter kommt man nicht mit ihr). This may have been, to a certain degree, the philosophy of Kathryn Kuhlman, of whom it be claimed that she prepared the way for the Holy Spirit like no one else. She conducted healing ministries and popularized the phenomenon of being "slain in the Spirit" towards the end of the 1960s.

Her biographer and follower, Jamie Buckingham, writes:

It was her special joy to lead the media astray... She lied, though deathly ill, about her age to her doctor. To the end this pride dominated her life... That was the inexplicable trait of hers that she kept till death. Even though she was in her late sixties she insisted that her radio announcer introduce her with the words: “And now, Kathryn Kuhlman, the young woman who you have been waiting for” ...Kathryn was a loner. She rejected the counsel of her friends. Submission was something foreign to her, especially when it meant to submit to a man or to a group of men (Jamie Buckingham, "Kathryn Kuhlman", [Daughter of Destiny], Verlag Johannes Fix, 1979, pp. 16, 83 and 85, translated from the German version).

Much weightier is tht fact that she lied to the world about her broken marriage with the already divorced Pentecostal preacher Burroughs Waltrip.

During her interview with Robert Hoyt from the Akron "Beacon Journal" she denied to have ever been married at all. “We were never married. I never made a marriage vow”,... She raised her finger threateningly and screamed at the reporter: “That is the truth, God help me” (ibid, p. 132).

A sad record was set by Peter Popoff. This self-styled Pentecostal healing-evangelist claimed to receive special messages and words of knowledge from God and called himself a prophet with the gift of healing. Popoff could reveal amazing details about the individuals who came seeking healing and help, like their name, address, age, detailed malady cases, etc. This went on until a miniature radio receiver was found hidden in his ear – and that his wife radioed him all the information.But he was not exposed by one of the several thousand more or less Charismatic visitors, among whom one would expect to find the gift of discernment of spirits. An atheist, James Randi, figured it out. It is well known that the children of this world are more wise than the children of light (Luke 16:8).

Randi dedicated himself to take a closer look at such faith healers. In 1987 he published The Faith Healers, a sort of standard reference work about this phenomena, (Richard Mayhue,
"The Healing Promise", Harvest House Publishers, pp. 44-45). When Randi presented his discoveries about these deceptions, Popoff countered: "He is of the devil"! This is the frequent reaction of super-spiritual faith healers when anyone questions their "signs and wonders".

Yet even after this expose the American magazine Charisma printed whole-page ads and Christians gave money to this "man of God". Why is it that so many believers can be so gullible?

Another Pentecostal healer who intended to help faith along with questionable means was W.V. Grant. He could also call people by their names, lengthen their legs and produce other apparently astonishing miracles. But finally it became clear that it was all staged. Actors among the audience imitated diseases and then the healing. Those who could miraculously stand up from a wheelchair could already walk without a wheelchair before the event, as it was later discovered (CIB Bulletin, Jan. 1992).

Such "wheelchair-healings" during mass evangelistic meetings are a favorite. A missionary to Africa who recently accompanied me to Tansania related that his children were eyewitnesses of a Reinhard Bonnke evangelistic campaign near the slums of Nairobi. They sat in some kind of balcony towards the side and realized how a healthy person sitting in a wheelchair was pushed to the front. With much excitement and joyful hallelujahs the "healed man" jumped from his chair. This led to the "conversion" of many.. The children were upset and confronted the representative of Bonnke's missions agency, CfaN (Christ for all the Nations) that this was deception. But he had no problems with this kind of "preaching", since it creates and strengthens faith in many.

Pastor Helmut Weidemann, who investigated the objective, medical evidence of a supposed and widely publicized faith healing through Reinhard Bonnke here in Germany, commented later with resignation: "I have never seen so much dishonesty in my life."

The magazine "Aufatmen", in reference to Benny Hinn and his book about the Holy Spirit and healings, stated:

A spokesman of the hospital involved considers Hinn's statements to be forgeries. Neither medical records nor statements of co-workers from back then or now exist that could substantiate these claims ("Aufatmen", 2/92, p. 77).

Also the story "Heavenly Man" (Br. Yun) has turned out to be more fantasy and deception than fact. But the Chinese man Yun has made a fortune through this book.

We could extend this list almost indefinetly. Nobody would claim that deception and seduction are present with every follower of this movement. People like Lee Grady and many others wage a decided war against this kind of untruthfulness in their own ranks.

Even in non-Charismatic groups similar problems of dishonesty, double standards and hypocrisy are on the rise. One must wake up to the fact that a spirit of lies spreads in the world, in denominations and in churches and that apparently many, even believers, really want to be deceived.

Elias Schrenk, the pioneer of evangelism on German soil, made a memorable observation about the rise of the infiltrating Pentecostal movement of his day which aptly applies to the popular hierarchy of today, esp. to the TV faith healers and "revival preachers":

I would rejoice in a movement that can be purified and that can be proven to be a genuine movement from God. But I am strongly convinced that you cannot cleanse a movement that is so obviously involved in so many lies as this movement is (Paul Fleisch, "Geschichte der Pfingstbewegung", [A History of the Pentecostal Movement], Francke-Buchhandlung GmbH, 1983, p. 169).

Especially when people attempt to spin and trim the obviously unfulfilled prophecies – which were boastfully proclaimed in the name of the Lord – long and hard enough so that they can somehow be shown to be vindicated after all, one cannot escape the conclusion that this is not the work of the Holy Spirit who is known as a Spirit of Truth.

Reinhard Bonnke, for example, proclaimed during his "fire conference" in Frankfurt 1987 that a great outpouring of the Spirit in Europe and Germany was imminent. What has happened since? An outpouring of deceiving spirits according to 2. Thess. 2:11. Europe is experiencing an unparalleled invasion of the occult and the New-Age. Instead of admitting that one is a false prophet, these “superspiritual” preachers twist like a snake in all imaginable directions and pull out all the stops in the art of concealment.

As an unbiased witness, the British pastor Keith Parker, counting himself to be a Charismatic, stated concerning a specific prophesy given by the late John Wimber:

The time came and went. No revival happened. Instead of confessing that he had misled God’s people, he denied that the prediction had been made, or else, that we had misinterpreted what had been written. After this, I felt that Wimber, and his ‘prophets’ had disqualified themselves, and I felt it save to ignore, anything, that came from that source (Keith Parker, "Prophets True or False? Signs and Wonders Real or Bogus?", p. 4).

All this all is a reminder of the complaint by Richard Krüger, the former president of the German Pentecostal Theological Seminary "Beröa": The prophets seldom or rarely admit errors, exaggerations or sky-high wishes (ideaSpektrum, 4/2002).

But the Word of God says: "And her prophets...seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken" (Ezekiel 22:28).

Alexander Seibel


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