Answering the Objections of Modern Apostles, Prophets, and Their Defenders – by Keith Gibson
In dealing with the new “apostles” and “prophets” as well as with their followers, one quickly encounters a problem. They do not wish to listen. In fact, the “prophetic movement” has developed an entire series of pat answers and knee-jerk reactions to those raising concerns about their teachings that makes any substantive dialogue on the actual issues themselves virtually impossible. Not only have modern prophets filled the church with extra-biblical and unbiblical revelations and doctrines, leading many away from the pure faith, but they have also insulated themselves from any correction by the larger body of Christ. These straw-men arguments and red herrings… must be refuted before any significant progress can be made on the larger issues.
The Martyrdom Complex
Martyrdom is a powerful symbol in religion. The person claiming martyr status becomes untouchable, unquestionable. Further, it immediately positions the one doing the challenging as evil, a Nazi, or worse… I have noticed a similar trend among many within the prophetic movement… To confront them is to persecute them.
Prophetess Victoria Boyson does this repeatedly. In two different prophetic messages (“The Religious Spirit that Seeks to Convince Us It Is God” and “Warriors of Truth”) she claims that those who “speak against” other Christians release demonic activity against their lives.
Or consider the words of Rick Joyner:
Two ministries go on continually before God’s throne: One is the ministry of intercession, the other is accusation… Satan…is called “the accuser of the brethren,” and we are told that his ministry goes on “day and night” before the throne of God (Rv. 12:10). How can Satan continue to accuse the saints before God if he has been thrown out of heaven and no longer has access to the throne? The answer: Satan uses the saints, who do have access to the throne, to do this diabolical work for him. (A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999, pp.38-39)
Moving past Joyner’s interesting speculation that it is actually through the words of Christians that Satan accuses the brethren before the throne, the central point is obvious: any form of criticism is the devil’s work… Joyner deflects any and all criticism by attributing it to satanically inspired persecution. In his [“visionary”] book The Final Quest, upon seeing a vast army of Christians under the control of the devil, Joyner hears the voice of the Lord state, “This is Satan’s ultimate deception. His ultimate power of destruction is released when he uses Christians to attack one another.” [The result of all this] is that no meaningful dialogue can take place when one of the parties is playing the victim. Even in the culture at large, victims get a pass.
The New Testament, however, does not support this assumption that disagreeing with a teacher’s doctrine is tantamount to persecuting them. There are numerous examples of the apostles warning against false teachers and even at times calling them out by name in order to protect the rest of the body–and this is never equated with persecution (2 Timothy 1:15, 17-18; 4:9, 14-15; 1 Corinthians 15; 3 John 9, etc…).
Appeal to Unity
Another common tactic employed by today’s prophets and apostles is to accuse those who attempt to correct false doctrine of being divisive, of sowing discord among the brothers. In his book Overcoming Evil in the Last Days, Joyner impugns the motives of those who would dare to be concerned about false teaching creeping into the church: “Although this spirit usually comes in the guise of protecting the sheep, the truth, or the Lord’s glory, it is an evil, critical spirit that will always end up causing division and destruction.”
Unity within the body is very important. Jesus prayed that we may be one just as He and the Father are one. Paul makes a powerful appeal for unity in Ephesians 4. It is a serious issue. But biblical unity is a unity based on truth, not in opposition to it. The Bible does not advocate peace at any price…
“You’re a Pharisee!”
Joyner devotes an entire third of Overcoming Evil to the subject of the “religious spirit”:
The Lord had little trouble with demons while He walked on earth. They quickly recognized His authority and begged for mercy. It was the conservative, zealous, religious community that immediately became His greatest enemy. Those who were the most zealous for the Word of God crucified the Word Himself when He became flesh to walk among them. The same is still true [today]. (Destiny Image Publishers, 2003, pp. 133)
…Because Joyner mentions no names specifically, he can feel that he is staying above the fray and is not guilty of the very thing that he is condemning. In Joyner’s system, to stand squarely on the truth of God’s Word is to be a Pharisee and a potential enemy of God, even worse trouble than a demon…
The charge of being a Pharisee is extremely emotionally powerful–for the Pharisees stand among the worst of the bad guys in the NT. This is doubly true when it is combined with the rhetoric that it was the Pharisees who killed Christ. Mike Bickle demonstrates this attack well when he states, “It was the ones pressing into biblical orthodoxy that murdered Christ.” So, to be passionate about the truth is to be a Pharisee and a Christ-killer…
Were the Pharisees those who were biblically orthodox?… A careful study of Scripture [reveals that] the problem with the Pharisees is not that they held the Scriptures in too high esteem, but rather they were perfectly willing to cancel them out in favor of their own doctrines… (Matthew 15:1-9, John 5:45-47)… The problem was not their adherence to the Bible but rather their adherence to their own doctrines, devised by men… We see much the same thing happening in the prophetic movement. We see a host of teachers inventing new doctrines that are completely unsubstantiated by Scripture and then presenting them as fact even if they contradict the direct teachings of the Word of God… It is not those who cling to the revealed truth of God found in the Scripture who are the true spiritual descendants of the Pharisees.
Of course, another way to refuse to deal with those who raise concerns about [false] teachings is simply to ignore them. In an interview with Charisma magazine, when asked about those who have concerns about his false prophecies, doctrines, and involvement with the Knights of Malta, Rick Joyner replied, “I’m not going to listen to people I think aren’t legitimate leaders in the body of Christ.”… Joyner [and countless others] have thus positioned [themselves] above correction.
Other prophets have taught that a prophet can only be corrected by someone who also has [equal] or greater status. Since most of the teachers in the evangelical and protestant world would never claim to be prophets or apostles, this essentially means that modern prophets are completely uncorrectable by the vast majority of the church!
Demonize the Opposition
Another common strategy employed by the modern prophets to deflect scrutiny away from their unbiblical teaching is to begin to discuss some kind of demonic influence in the person raising the concern… This usually comes in the form of the “Jezebel spirit,” the “religious spirit,” and “the accuser of the brethren.” All of these entities are defined differently by the various prophets, but it is certain that they are very bad. The religious spirit is generally applied to anyone who attempts to ask questions like, “Why hasn’t the church ever believed this before?” or “Where is the doctrinal basis for these new practices?” The person is immediately painted as someone who is stuck in the “old wineskins” and is not responding to the new things that God is doing.
A religious spirit will usually give a counterfeit gift of discernment of spirits. This counterfeit gift thrives on seeing what is wrong with others rather than seeing what God is doing so that we can help them along… Though the truth may be accurate, it is ministered in a spirit that kills. (Overcoming the Religious Spirit, MorningStar Publications, 1996, Fourth Printing 2002, pp. 21-22)
…But far and away, the most common demon that one can anticipate being accused of [operating under] is the Jezebel spirit. The Jezebel spirit is generally… applied to those who will not respond to the authority of these new apostles and prophets. As one prophetic disciple expressed to me, Jezebel sought to control the king, and she attacked the prophets of God. Joyner states:
Basically, the spirit of the Jezebel is a combination of the religious spirit and the spirit of witchcraft that is the spirit of manipulation and control… This spirit attacks the prophetic ministry because that has always been the primary way in which the Lord gives timely, strategic direction to His people. (A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999, p. 148)
…The effect of this argument is generally exactly what the prophet desired [to instill]: a fear among God’s people to examine the “revelations” of the prophet [as] the light of God’s revealed Word, and silence when the new teachings fail to pass the test.
“Don’t Put God in a Box!”
So you think that manifestations like spiritual drunkenness, jerking, roaring, barking, and crawling around like an animal don’t seem consistent with God’s revelation of Himself and His instructions to the church given in Scripture? You are concerned that Ekstasis worship seems more like the trance states induced in pagan worship practices? Well, this is the answer for you: You’re trying to put God in a box. You are trying to dictate and limit what God can and can’t do.
The power of this argument stems from the fact that the Scriptures portray God as an awesome Being who does amazing and unexpected things, who is not formulaic in His ways. The net result of the argument, though, is an “anything goes” approach to divine activity. As long as the worshipper himself/herself feels good about what is happening, the source is assumed to be God–and no one can state differently.
But the question is not one of trying to box God in but rather one of taking God at His word. If God has said that He is not the author of confusion in the worship service but of peace (1 Corinthians 14) can we believe that or not? If it is true, then doesn’t that give us guidelines for determining that some manifestations are contrary to God’s nature as He has revealed it Himself? Are the Scriptures truly sufficient as they claim? If this is so, then won’t they give us the parameters for the activities of the Holy Spirit? Shouldn’t we apply these parameters in evaluating the modern manifestations? Taking God at His word is the essence of faith. It [doesn’t mean we are] limiting God [if we] seek to live and worship according to the boundaries He has established. God has given these boundaries and warnings for the protection of His people… so that we can determine what is and what is not from Him.
“God Offends the Mind to Reveal the Heart”
[These leaders] imply that if you are not willing to shelve your brain and follow along, you have a heart problem. But the Bible… does not treat the intellect as a problem. The heart and mind are frequently used interchangeably in Scripture. [The statement “God offends the mind to reveal the heart”] is a doctrine written by modern apostles and repeated so frequently that it has gained acceptance among the biblically illiterate…. In reality, this is just the modern apostle/prophet’s way of saying, “You think too much. Just go with the flow and see where it leads.” Once again, the underlying message is crystal clear. Don’t think. Don’t question. This approach to Christianity is both unbiblical and unwise.
“God’s Gonna Judge You!”
If the attempt at silencing their critics through guilt doesn’t work, the modern prophets will move to intimidation: “God will judge you!” Look at the words of apostolic pastor Dutch Sheets in a prophecy about the “Shift in 2006″:
Those who refuse to move in current truth will begin to openly criticize leaders in the Body of Christ that are moving in the flow of the apostolic and the prophetic… When they do, God is going to begin to judge them.
This warning by Dutch Sheets would actually make sense if these modern apostles and prophets were truly in the mold of the Old Testament prophets or New Testament apostles. These men spoke with God’s authority. To reject their word was to reject the Word of God. But since today’s apostles and prophets are frequently wrong and will not subject themselves to the biblical tests, they are engaged in something far different.
By attacking anyone who expresses concern based on doctrinal issues, the modern prophets have created an environment of passive acceptance. They place themselves above rebuke and correction, even from the Word of God. [Tragically], this may truly lead to a case of the blind leading the blind.