Tom: We’re continuing our guided tour through Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, with author Dave Hunt. In our discussion today, we’ll cover Chapter 23, “Charismatic Evangelical Occultism.”
Dave, for the sake of our listeners, who may not be familiar with the terms “charismatic,” “evangelical,” or “occultism,” would you give us a brief definition of those terms?
Dave: People say it’s hard for me to be brief, Tom, but I’ll do my best!
Dave: Charismatic – that’s a recent movement, I guess. The Pentecostal movement they say began about 1906 at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The charismatic movement is basically sort of a Pentecostal belief in the gifts of the Spirit, but it’s not confined to the Pentecostal churches. It has penetrated the mainline churches out there. So basically, they believe in the gifts of the Spirit, the baptism in the Spirit. They have a great emphasis upon speaking in tongues – that would be the one gift that they think everyone should have. And they also emphasize miracles…
Tom: Right, signs and wonders…
Dave: …and healings – signs and wonders, mm-hmm.
Evangelical – well, the “evangel” is the gospel. And of course all of these words begin to change their meaning, unfortunately, like “born again” – everybody’s born again now; and everybody’s – well, not everybody claims to be evangelical, but that would refer to those within the Christian church who attempt to stay with the Word of God and with the gospel of Jesus Christ and are not willing to compromise it.
Tom: So there can be some overlap between charismatic and evangelical – I mean, these are not hard and fast categories, or terms, necessarily.
Dave: Right. There are many evangelicals who claim to be charismatic and charismatics who claim to be evangelicals. There’s no big division between them.
Tom: Okay, what about occultism?
Dave: Occultism – well, we’ve talked about that a bit. If you believe that not only God exists but Satan exists, then there could be…we don’t call it a “dark side” to the power, to the force. These are personal beings. God is a personal being. Occultism is an attempt to gain power. Many people think it is from God, but they can open themselves to satanic deception. And Satan, who promised Eve that she could become one of the gods, is only too eager to give people occult power; sometimes it’s called “psychic” power. Many people who are Christians, or who call themselves Christians, they think this is a power from God. Now, Jesus refers to that (Matthew:24:24) when He said that “Many false prophets would arise and would show great signs and wonders, so convincing that if possible, even the elect would be deceived.” In Matthew 7, He said, “”Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? In your name we did miracles, in your name we cast out devils.” Jesus said, “I will say, I never knew you.”
So they apparently had some kind of a power, but it was not from God. It was not from Jesus Christ, although they claimed to do these things in His name. And you can open yourself to the world of the occult very easily in a number of ways, and we’ve talked about that in the past.
Tom: Dave, that’s really an alarming, even disturbing, verse that you just quoted: Matthew:7:22-23. It seems that these people are standing before God in judgment. And you just mentioned that you didn’t feel that these things that they were doing – it says that they prophesied “in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name had done many wonderful works.” You don’t believe any of those might have been of the Lord.
Dave: Well, it’s not a question of my beliefs; it’s what Jesus said. And He said, “I will say, I never knew you.” Now if He never knew them, and He says, “I know my sheep and am known of mine,” then they were never His sheep. Apparently, what they were doing, even though they did it in His name – how sincere we don’t know – was not of God, and Jesus was not in it at all. So they had some apparent power.
Well, there are a lot of the signs and wonders, so-called, that you wouldn’t have to be too bright to see nothing is going on. I mean, it’s phony. Sometimes it could be the power of suggestion – a lot of people fall down, or they imagine that they’ve been healed, and then they find out later that they haven’t. They’re sincere, and so forth. But on the other hand, there is some kind of a power going on in many instances, and Jesus says, “I never knew you.” So I think that’s something that we have to consider very carefully.
Now, how would we know who is really of God and who is not?
Tom: Well, just to go back to it, as you said, there are some who – this is just a straight con job. Crooks wouldn’t be…that you’d say, “Oh, you’re just being nasty here.” But no, some of them are indeed crooks, and some of them have been found out, or it’s been demonstrated that they’re just that.
Dave: Yeah, we had one so-called signs and wonders worker who claimed to be getting revelations from God. He could call out the name of a person and their address, tell you their medical problem, the doctor’s name, and so forth.
Tom: As though this was a “word from the Lord,” right?
Dave: Right. That’s what he said. But, in fact, he had a sophisticated receiving mechanism in one of his ears, and he was getting this information by radio wave from backstage from his wife and was exposed by Randi, the magician.
Tom: Yeah, she went through – as I remember that – she went through cards that people had filled out, is that right?
Dave: No, it was a little more than that. They had people moving through the audience, and as people would come into these large crusades, and they would talk with one another, you know: “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” and “Why are you here?” and “What’s your problem?” See, you had to have a description of the person, as well, so she’s back there saying, “No, it’s the lady in the red dress with the long, blonde hair – yeah, farther over to your right,” you know, and this was all recorded. So this was literally a deliberate scam to get money from people, and yet many of these people thought at the moment that they were healed in the excitement of the moment, and when someone could call out your name and give your doctor’s name and give your diagnosis, and so forth, that’s very convincing! Convincing enough to make people think they had a psycho-…not to think they had a psychosomatic, but they had a psychosomatic release momentarily. And then later on, why, after the excitement wears off, and this faith…so-called faith that has been generated by what seems to be such miraculous knowledge on the part of this person, it wears off and their ailment comes back.
Tom: So an individual who would perpetrate something like this – this wouldn’t be Matthew:7:22. I mean these people are not going to stand before the Lord and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not…?” I mean these are just crooks.
Dave: I don’t know about that, Tom.
Tom: You mean the self-delusion’s going to be that strong?
Dave: No, but they’re trying to justify themselves: “Lord, we did it in your name,” you know. And some of them could even say, “Well, we’re trying to generate faith out there. We’re trying to help people believe.” So even though they stooped to fraudulent means, they might still say, “Lord, but we did it in your name.”
Tom: Well, see, that’s where it gets a little bit confusing for some people, because you have a number of examples in this chapter that seem to be a con job, on the one hand. On the other hand, some of them would claim this is how the Lord wanted them to go about it, just as you were saying.
Dave: Well, for example, Benny Hinn – one of the most popular ones – he’s on TBN with Paul and Jan Crouch, and he is telling how he touched this man, or blew on him – I don’t remember the details – and the man fell over and his wig flew off. And the guy gets it back on, and it’s a little bit askew. And he gets up…five times, Benny said, he knocked him down just to see the wig fall off, and Benny and Paul and Jan are laughing uproariously. I don’t think you could say that’s the power of God. I don’t believe that God knocks people down to see their wig fall off so you can laugh.
On the other hand, there must have been some power at work there, so you have to ask yourself, “What power was that?” When you open yourself up…. You want power, but you are not careful to follow the Word of God, and you’re lacking in integrity as to the use of this power, and in fact, it is used to your own aggrandizement to get people to think that you have power, and so forth, then you’ve opened yourself up. And Satan is only too eager to give power to people who will use it for his ends rather than to the glory of God.
And one way that we can tell where this power is coming from is, “What do these people teach?” The power is used, supposedly, to confirm a message. We get that in the scriptures. The message that the apostles preached was confirmed through signs and wonders. Now, when you’re confirming a false message through signs and wonders, something that is not biblical, that’s a pretty good indication this is not of God, because God does not give you signs and wonders to confirm false doctrine.
Tom: Dave, there’s an example in here from Oral Roberts in this chapter on page 486, and I’m particularly interested in the individual who received a letter from Oral Roberts’s ministry…
Tom: …and it had to do with his wife. Can you read that for us?
Dave: Well, this is a quotation from a man that wrote to the New Sentinel, Knoxville, Tennessee, and the letter was published in the paper. He says, “Upon the urging of my terminally ill wife, I poured hundreds of dollars into the Oral Roberts empire. She was brainwashed into the belief that he and God would restore her.
Approximately one year after her death, she received a letter over the signature of Oral Roberts in which he claimed that he had a talk with God the previous night, who had assured him that my wife would be made whole. This so much incensed me that I turned the letter over and replied in substance that he was a liar, that God never told him any such thing, that God knew she had been in heaven for about a year. I received no reply. When are we gullible people going to stop channeling monies to these whatever – whoever they are, providing them Cadillacs, and so forth.”
Well, I have a letter from Oral Roberts in which he claimed that God…well, he’d been up all night praying for me, and God gave him 33 specific promises of blessings for me! Well, my, it must have been for me, because my name is in the letter. Well, you know, the computer put it in, and so did several hundred thousand other people get the same letter, with the 33 same blessings that he claimed God had specifically told him God wanted to bestow upon them if they would only send in a seed-faith offering, and that their offering would start these miracles flowing. Now, I mean, there’s so many things like that, Tom, and we don’t like to…
Tom: We have a whole file, you know – it’s six pounds. It’s just rip-off letters from ministries who are impacting gullible people to send in their money.
Dave: And that is such a tragedy, because people are not being taught the Word of God, unfortunately. You know, after we wrote The Seduction of Christianity, remember, Oral Roberts organized what was called Charismatic Bible Ministries. They have a huge conference every year there in Tulsa, and all of the leading Word Faith teachers belong to this. And one of the things that they say – they have sort of a – what would you call it…Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Faith, or whatever – one of the things they say is they will not correct one another. They’re not going to criticize one another. We really need correction. Everyone needs correction! And their logo that you see on the platform at every conference is “Unity and Love through Signs and Wonders.” And they emphasize “signs and wonders.” And this is the big thing – the prosperity gospel. I don’t find prosperity gospel in the Word of God. We don’t get sound doctrine, biblical exegesis, real teaching from the Word of God from these people. But this continual emphasis upon signs and wonders – what I can get from God…. In fact, one chapter in one of Oral Roberts’s books is titled “What’s in It for Me, God?”
Now, I don’t find that in the Scripture, and that is of great concern to us, Tom. We’re not trying to run people down. We’re simply wanting to be biblical, and that concerns me, especially in view of the scripture that we just read. What was the problem with these men that will stand before the Lord? They should have said, “But Lord Jesus, you said, ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. You promised eternal life to all who would believe on you.’” They don’t say that. They said, “Lord, Lord, look at the miracles. Look at the signs and wonders we did in your name,” and we have a whole “signs and wonders” movement that involves a lot more people than just the ones we’ve talked about. We talked about just one or two of those within the Word Faith movement, but this involves what they call the Third Wave now. And it goes out into mainstream evangelicals, supposedly – we thought they were – and yet this is their big emphasis.
John Wimber, you remember, wrote the book Power Evangelism. He went so far in that book as to say, “You can’t really preach the gospel unless you do signs and wonders.” Well, I find an awful lot of preaching the gospel in the Book of Acts, even, where there were signs and wonders, but not always! I didn’t see any…signs and wonders are not the major way that brings people to God. Nobody saw more signs and wonders than the children of Israel. The Red Sea opening up, God speaking with an audible voice from Mount Sinai, you know, water out of a rock, their shoes never wore out, they have manna every morning except on the Sabbath, and so forth. I mean, nobody saw signs and wonders like they saw! And yet the Bible says they were rebellious and disobedient, and it says of Jesus, “Though he did so many miracles, yet they believed not on him.” But now we have, Tom, a movement in the last days, and emphasizing signs and wonders – the very thing the false prophets emphasize.
And Paul, in 2 Timothy:3:8 says, “As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” Jannes and Jambres were the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, and they withstood Moses by the power of Satan – they did miracles. Well, it was lying signs and wonders, but nevertheless, they seemed to duplicate the miracles that God did through Moses and Aaron to such an extent that it deceived Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and they continued to resist God.
Now, Paul says very clearly, “That is the opposition to the truth, and to the true faith that there will be in the last days.”
Jesus warned of a great “signs and wonders” movement that would not be of God. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in signs and wonders. I believe that God does miracles. I’ve seen Him do miracles. But we have to be very, very careful…
Tom: Dave, what you said earlier is just really important to repeat: Those who are interested in signs and wonders – rarely do they hold up the teaching with regard to the ministry that’s so-called performing…or performing so-called signs and wonders. But Deuteronomy:13:1-3, the Lord lays it out very clearly: He says, “If there arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them. Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or the dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God proveth you to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
So that’s an admonition that we have to take to heart. And most people, when they say, “Well, look what he’s doing! And look at all the people who are coming to his camp meeting or to his healing service, or whatever….” That’s not the criterion.
Dave: Tom, we’re not trying to be popular. We’re not trying to gain popularity and gain a following, or we wouldn’t talk like this. We could do other things. We do have a genuine concern for the souls of individuals and for their wellbeing. And unfortunately, I would have to say this: It’s not just the fault of the false prophets. It’s also the fault of those who follow them, because they want this, instead of wanting God’s will.
You know, when you read the great “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11, yes, there are some great things that happen, but there’s also suffering. There are people who die. There are people who are starving. It says “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; they dwelt in dens and caves of the earth.” There’s not a word about healing and prosperity in the entire faith chapter. So when you are out to get something for yourself rather than to submit to God’s will – you know, sometimes the trials that come in our lives teach us what we could not learn otherwise, and my first priority must be to do God’s will, to submit to Him, not trying to get something from God; to allow God to give me – and I tremble as I say this, because it applies to me as well – not to say, “God, I want what I want,” but “Lord, what is Your will for my life?”
So I would have to blame the followers as well, who support these men in spite of false prophecy after false prophecy after false prophecy! They continue to support them.
Let me just…here’s Kenneth Copeland – now, this is in 1975 in December, and he said, “As you move into the month of January [that’s 1976], you shall see more of the outpouring of God’s glory than you’ve ever seen in the history of this world: limbs that have been amputated put back on by the power of God; eyeballs replaced where there were no eyeballs; God will cause your automobile that you are driving and getting 10 miles to the gallon to get 70 miles to the gallon – the same old car.”
Now, it never happened, Tom. That’s a false prophecy! The Bible says this is a false prophet, then. But even though it doesn’t happen, they continue to honor these people. They continue to follow them because of the promises that they offer them of healing and prosperity, and there’s a verse in 2 Peter 2 that really goes to the heart of this. It says, “Through covetousness, they [talking about false teachers that there will be in the last days] will make merchandise of you.”
And you have a file – we have files full of this, all these letters – the heart of it is: Send us your seed faith offering. Give to our ministry, and that will grease the skids of miracles flowing from heaven!
And so the people, through covetousness, they’re being made merchandise of; the covetousness of the false prophets, and also, the covetousness of the people, who want to get something from God, and somehow sound doctrine, biblical teaching, is not exciting—it’s not what we want, it’s despised…Paul said there would be a day coming when they would not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts, they would heap to themselves these teachers – these false teachers. So we have to blame not just the false teachers but the people who follow them.
Tom: This is going to grow. I mean, I’m thinking of 2 Thessalonians 3: “Those who have not a love for the truth, God is going to send strong delusion that they believe the lie.” That’s a frightening verse. But it can be – if we will have a heart, and cry out to the Lord for a heart for truth, wanting to do His will, wanting what He has – I mean, we have joy, we have abundant life, all the things that He offers in Him, if we’ll just come to Him in truth and in love.
Dave: Amen. This is what He offers: He offers us Himself – not just things. In the final analysis, I must say, “Not my will but thine be done.” And we want God’s will. I mean, this is best, and that’s our heart, Tom.