An excerpt from Keith Gibson’s book Wandering Stars – Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. Published in 2011 by Solid Ground Christian Books.
Chapter Four – We’re Not Listening and You Can’t Make Us – Answering the Objections of Modern Apostles, Prophets and Their Defenders
"I'm not going to listen to people I think aren't legitimate leaders in the body of Christ." —Rick Joyner
In dealing with the new apostles and prophets as well as 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 which make 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, they have also insulated themselves from any correction by the larger body of Christ. These straw-men arguments and red herrings are essentially thought terminators and must be refuted before any significant progress can be made on the larger issues.
In this chapter we will address the most common arguments raised by the apostles, prophets, and their defenders. It is hoped that dealing with these early, those in the prophetic movement who might take the time to actually read this book will be open to seriously consider the information found on the subsequent pages. It is also hoped that those reading this book in order to inform themselves of the dangers of the movement or to reach a friend or loved one currently in the movement will be better equipped to scale the walls that will immediately be erected in defense of the modern apostles and their false doctrines.
The Martyr 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. It is why Mormons talk of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith (despite the fact that he had a gun, fired into the mob coming up the stairs and killed a young man before being shot himself) and position their detractors as “anti-Mormons.”
I have noticed a similar trend among many within the prophetic movement. I am not saying that these people are cult leaders or that the prophetic movement is a cult. I am only saying that in this instance they frequently employ similar tactics. To confront them, is to persecute them.
Prophetess Victoria Boyson does this repeatedly. In two different prophetic words (“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, however, is called “the accuser of the brethren,” and we are told that his ministry goes on “day and night” before the throne of God (Rev: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, 1999 Thomas Nelson Publishers, 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.
This tactic seems to be Rick Joyner’s modus operandi. In a number of his writings, he deflects any and all criticism by attributing it to satanically inspired persecution.
In his most popular 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 Final Quest, 1996 Whitaker House Publishers, p. 21)
Later in the same book, Joyner has an experience where he is allegedly in heaven and is approached by a man there. This man, according to Joyner, had a great ministry that Joyner had respected but he is one of the lowest in the kingdom of heaven. This man tells Joyner why his position is so low:
We sowed fear and division throughout the church, all in the name of protecting the truth. In my self-righteousness, I was headed for perdition. (Final Quest, p. 108)
Notice that the defense of the truth is equated with sowing division among the brethren. Notice also that the one involved was headed to perdition. We will deal with the divisiveness argument momentarily.
It is possible to supply a virtually endless number of examples of today’s prophets teaching the same thing. But the point 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. For instance, Paul mentions that Phygelus and Hermogenes were among those who turned away from him (2 Tim:1:15). He calls out Hymenaeus and Philetus for teaching that the resurrection was already passed and upsetting the faith of some (2 Tim:2:17-18). He says that Demas has loved the present world (2 Tim:4:9). He warns Timothy to beware of Alexander the coppersmith because he did great harm to Paul (2 Tim 14-15. Paul mentions those in Corinth who denied the bodily resurrection of the saints (1 Cor 15). It is presumable that the body of believers in Corinth would have known who these men were. Similarly, Paul confronts those stressing circumcision and conformity to the law in his letter to the Galatians. Likewise the apostle John openly exposes Diotrephes for not recognizing John’s authority (3 Jn 9). In fact, virtually all of the New Testament epistles contain some warning about false teaching and false teachers. Paul even commands the church at Rome to mark or note those who are bringing doctrinal error into the church and to avoid these teachers (Rom:16:17).
Apparently, the apostles didn’t realize that they were persecuting these men, engaging in the devil’s work, and releasing demonic activity when they confronted false doctrine.)
So, we need to understand:
The 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. We have already seen one such instance in the writings of Rick Joyner. There are many others.
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 and writes, “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.” (Overcoming Evil in the Last Days, 2003 Destiny Image Publishers, pp. 144-45)
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. There are lines of no compromise. We are not to join hands with false teachers.
Romans:16:17 indicates that it is those bringing the new and different doctrines who are responsible for creating the division. Similarly the apostle John declared that those who went out from us did so that it might be manifest that they were not of us (1 John:2:19). First Corinthians 11 indicates that it is necessary that divisions come so that it may be obvious who those are who are approved of God.
It is the new apostles and prophets who are the true schismatics. They have chosen a course that takes them away from the rest of the body. Consider it this way, if the church is continuing to teach the historic doctrines of the faith and a particular teacher moves away from these doctrines to teach something else, who moved? Who created the separation? Who is really causing the division? Pointing out that a division exists by exposing the new, false doctrines is not the cause of the division. The fault here does not lie with those concerned with biblical truth but with those who have abandoned it.
You are a Pharisee
In his book, Overcoming Evil in the Last Days, Joyner devotes an entire third of the book to the subject of the “religious spirit.” (Interestingly, the book only deals with three evils, racism, witchcraft, and the religious spirit. The obvious implication is that the religious spirit is one of the three most serious evils to be overcome in the last days.) Joyner writes,
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. (Overcoming Evil, p. 133)
Joyner’s point is easy to see. His backhanded slap at the conservative Evangelical community is obvious, although 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. We deal in depth with the nature of the Pharisees momentarily. Suffice it for now to say that the problem Jesus had with them was not that they were Biblically oriented.
Joyner continues with the seriousness of this spirit. “All of the cults and false religions combined have not done as much damage to the moves of God as the opposition, or infiltration, of the religious spirit in the Church. Cults and false religions are easily discerned, but the religious spirit has thwarted or diverted possibly every revival or movement to date, and it still retains a seat of honor throughout most of the visible Church.” (Overcoming Evil, p. 133)
Joyner’s absolute ignorance is evident when he says that cults and false religions are easy to discern. Would that this were so but the over 180,000,000 people involved in cults and the billions involved in false religions testify differently. And Joyner continues his assault on the vast majority of the Body of Christ when he states that the religious spirit “retains a seat of honor throughout most of the visible Church.” His hypocrisy is evident as he engages in the very activity he condemns. But of course we are not supposed to notice that.
The charge of being a Pharisee is extremely emotionally powerful—for the Pharisees stand among the worst of the bad guys in the New Testament. 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. (Contending for the Power of God, audio message, CD 1)
So, to be passionate about the truth is to be a Pharisee and a Christ-killer.
However, I would like to consider whether or not the charge itself has any merit. Were the Pharisees those who were biblically orthodox? I first began to think about this after hearing a presentation in which the speaker made a passing comment that “the Pharisees were not biblicists.” A careful study of Scripture bears this out. 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. Consider the following examples:
Matthew:15:1-9 (ESV) 1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 but you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 ‘this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Notice clearly that the problem was not their adherence to the Bible but rather their adherence to their own doctrines devised by men.
John:5:45-47 (ESV) 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
Once again, notice that the problem is not their adherence to the Scriptures.
Multiple other examples could be cited. Now here is the point. Among the many errors of the Pharisees, was their tendency to place their own doctrines, invented by men, above the Scriptures. What the Bible had to say could be cancelled out in favor of what they said.
I would submit that 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. This will be demonstrated in the succeeding chapters of this book.
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 concern about the teachings of the new prophets and apostles 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.” (“God’s Lightening Rod” April 2001 Charisma Magazine)
Given Joyner’s attitude toward those involved in discernment ministries, it is doubtful that anyone who would dare to attempt to correct him would be found on his list of “legitimate leaders.” Joyner has thus positioned himself largely above correction.
Other prophets have taught that a prophet can only be corrected by someone who also has the status of a prophet or a greater status (i.e. apostle). 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! Additionally, since the only ones who would claim to be prophets or apostles are those who already agree with many of the same premises as these prophetic teachers, the chance that they would ever be challenged or corrected is exceedingly small. One only needs to spend a little time reading prophetic newsletters like Elijah List or the Identity Network to see that this is certainly the case. All manner of aberrant doctrines are readily available and the prophets are very careful not to bring corrective words against one another.
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. We have already seen hints of this in some of the quotes used previously. This usually comes in the form of the Jezebel spirit, the religious spirit, and the accuser of the brethren. (I have also been told that I have a Judas spirit, Saul spirit, and Eli spirit. Let the reader be warned.) 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. Rick Joyner speaks of the activity of the religious spirit in the following manner:
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. This is how a religious spirit does some of its greatest damage to the church its ministry will almost always leave more damage and division than healing and reconciliation. Its wisdom is rooted in the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil and though the truth may be accurate, it is ministered in a spirit that kills. (Overcoming the Religious Spirit, 1996, Fourth printing in 2002 MorningStar Publications, pp. 21-22)
It must be pointed out that Joyner offers no biblical support for his declaration that a religious spirit even exists and that it gives a counterfeit gift of discernment of spirits. But then again, to ask for a scriptural basis is merely to prove that one has a religious spirit. Once again Joyner appeals to his mystical understanding of the poisonous Tree of Knowledge. What is fascinating is that Joyner admits that the person may be accurate in their discernment of error. But of course, that doesn’t really matter. Remember that we have already seen that the religious spirit has done more damage to the moves of God than all the cults and false religions combined.
The religious spirit is one terrible entity but so is the accuser of the brethren, a name reserved in the Bible for Satan himself. In a similar vein to Joyner, Francis Frangipane writes:
More churches have been destroyed by the accuser of the brethren and its faultfinding than by either immorality or misuse of church funds. So prevalent is this influence in our society that, among many, faultfinding has been elevated to the status of a ‘ministry.’ (The House of the Lord, 1999 Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 148)
These are truly ominous words. Certainly no one would wish to be accused of being possessed by something so destructive. It’s enough to make anyone consider shutting down their thinking capacities and merely towing the line. Better to just drink the Kool-Aid than risk such demonic infestation.
But far and away the most common demon one can anticipate being accused of carrying is the Jezebel spirit. The Jezebel spirit is generally, though not universally, applied to those who will not respond to the authority of these new apostles and prophets. After all, 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. (Prophetic Vision, p. 148)
We already saw how destructive the religious spirit was but the Jezebel spirit is worse because it adds the spirit of witchcraft. This spirit is also associated with sensuality by some of the modern prophetic teachers.
Emotionally, these are powerful weapons—especially for those who are biblically untrained. Who wants to believe that they might be the instrument of a demon intent on stopping the move of God and destroying the church? The effect of this argument is generally exactly what the prophet desired, a fear among God’s people to examine the revelations of the prophet in the light of God’s revealed Word and silence when the new teachings fail to pass the test.
God in a Box
So you think that manifestations like spiritual drunkenness, jerking, roaring, barking, and crawling around like an animal doesn’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 Cor 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 is not limiting God to seek to live and worship according to the boundaries He established. God has given these boundaries and warnings for the protection of His people. He has done this precisely so that we can determine what is and is not from Him.
God Offends the Mind to Reveal the Heart
Once again, emotionally powerful because it implies that if you are not willing to shelve your brain and follow along, you have a heart problem. But the Bible never once says this. The Bible does not treat the intellect as a problem. The heart and mind are frequently used interchangeably in Scripture. This is a doctrine written by modern apostles and repeated so frequently that it has gained acceptance among the biblically illiterate. It has become a maxim. 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 Will 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.”
Opposition to the apostolic and prophetic will also be the greatest this year.
He is going to expose wineskins (new or old) and religious spirits, taking off the masks of those who oppose his move. 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. Some have been doing so in a very subtle way but this year it will become obvious. When they do, God is going to begin to judge them. (“The Shift for 2006—Ministries will Restructure, as will Churches, Businesses, Individuals, and Families” online article http://www.elijahist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=3723)
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 world 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. This may truly lead to a case of the blind leading the blind.