T.A. McMahon welcomes guest Keith Gibson, pastor and author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. It’s great to have you along! In today’s program, Tom is joined by Keith Gibson, author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Our guest this week and, Lord willing, next week is Keith Gibson. Now, Keith is the author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. If there’s a better book addressing the false teachings bound up in the Latter Rain [movement], Manifest Sons of God, the so-called Kansas City Prophets, the International House of Prayer, Bethel Church of Redding, CA, and many other heresies—well, I’m not aware of it. Keith took the name of his book from Jude’s epistle, which exhorts believers to “contend for the faith.” Verse 13 characterizes false teachings as “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
Keith, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Keith: Well, thank you, Tom. Thanks for having me.
Tom: Yeah. Keith, let’s start off by you giving our listeners your background and what motivated you to write Wandering Stars.
Keith: Well, thank you. Yeah, I went into this somewhat backward, I guess. I’m just a pastor. I pastor a church here in Kansas City in the heartland, and about nine years ago, I had some young people from my church come up to me after service, and they said, “Pastor Keith, do you know anything about IHOP, the International House of Prayer?” which is here in Kansas City.
And I said, “Just a very little bit.” I said, “I really haven’t looked at it much.” And they said, “Well, we’ve got friends involved in this group, and we really think something’s off, but we’re not quite sure about it. We wish that you would take a look at it.” So I went to the bookstore there and I bought some of the sermons, bought some of the books, and listened to the sermons, read them, read the books, began to get really concerned, and that really propelled what has now been nine years of research into the Apostolic and Prophetic Movement. Reading their books, listening to their sermons, interviewing former and current staff people and people involved in the movement, and ultimately it just became a burden because there wasn’t a lot of literature out on the subject, and certainly not much literature that was more even-handed, I thought, in tone. And so I felt compelled to write the book, and that’s what led to Wandering Stars.
Tom: Yeah. Well, Keith, as you know, based on your book, I have written two articles using your book as the primary source, and as you know, as well, I’ve had the opportunity—the privilege of working with Dave Hunt on The Seduction of Christianity. We have dealt with, certainly, Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain, many of these things that you have spelled out clearly. And we go back to the Kansas City Prophets, [and] the individuals involved—certainly Mike Bickle and others—but it’s far more than that, which is what I think is terrific about your book. Yes, you mentioned IHOP, International House of Prayer, Kansas City Prophets, and right there you are, right where the…
Tom: …yeah, International House of Prayer is. But there’s so much more, and I’m going to add to some of the things that I mentioned in the introduction and just throw a couple other names in there: there’s the Elijah List, certainly the Word-Faith Movement—many of those are a part of that or a part of this—the New Apostolic Reformation, Joel’s Army, certainly C. Peter Wagner and his approach. Now, here’s my question: it seems like I’ve covered a whole spectrum, but basically, what characterizes these individuals, these institutions, [and] these movements?
Keith: Well, that’s a great question. I think the first thing that you touched on that I want to just reiterate is there’s a lot of cross-pollenization between a multitude of aberrant movements like the Word-Faith, New Apostolic, and the Prophetic. I think what is one of the major characteristics of this movement is the man-exalting nature of it. Jesus can’t return until these modern apostles and prophets bring all of the church under submission to them, and then ultimately—in things like the Seven Mountains Prophecy and others—ultimately they’re going to take control of all of society, and they really conquer the world for Jesus Christ, and then and only then can Jesus return.
Keith: And so, it’s so much more, and I want to emphasize this: this is so much more than a debate about whether or not the spiritual gifts are still available to the church; this has to do with fundamental Christian truth…
Keith: …and in this movement, through the exalting of the modern apostles and prophets and their word over and above Scripture, we really are seeing that virtually every major doctrine of Christianity is under attack in this movement. So that’s—I think the man-exalting nature in this vision of world-conquest is one of the primary characteristics of this movement.
Tom: Yeah. And, Keith, Lord willing, we’re going to get into a lot of this, but the title of the two articles that I wrote was, “They Claim to Speak for God.” Certainly in my case, we have— well, it’s probably all over the country—you have TBN, and you see a lot of these individuals that are given opportunities to preach and teach. And the thing that I find tragic, stunning first and then tragic, is these individuals who are claiming to speak for God, you know, when the camera pulls back from the prophet, you see literally thousands in their churches…
Tom: …and the thing I pointed out in the article that hit me once, you know, you could say, “Oh, well, these guys are kooks. Come on, why even spend your time and your energy?” But when it pulls back and you see thousands of people within one church—I’m not talking about all the different programs and the cumulative numbers who are following this, but you see literally 3-4,000—sometimes 5,000 people hanging onto every word that these individuals are claiming [are] coming from God. Now, these are our brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the points I tried to make is that when we read about persecuted Christians in Sudan, in Islamic countries, wherever it might be, our hearts grieve because these people are being persecuted. But there’s another side to the adversary’s attack on the church, and that is seduction.
So now we have believers—I’m not saying they’re all believers, but you can’t tell me there aren’t believers among them—but they have been seduced, they have been drawn into this by an individual—and this is what I love about your book—you set up the methodology by which they use to—call it “supersede,” but basically trashing the Scriptures, and imposing a methodology of supposedly hearing from God that perverts the Scriptures, that really aborts what the Word of God says.
So could you get into a little of how they go about it? And I’d like you to start off with, and I remember this back from the whole Word-Faith Movement, Rhema vs. Logos. Could you explain that a bit?
Keith: Right. In the doctrinal scheme of the Word-Faith Movement, and now the New Apostolic Reformation and the Prophetic Movement, there’s a false dichotomy that they develop between the logos, “Word,” and the rhema, “word of God.” They will say that where the Bible uses the term logos, it’s talking about the objective, written Word of God, and that’s all good, but whenever the Bible uses the word rhema, it means the personal word of God, God speaking to you. Whether that is God speaking to you in an audible voice, or a dream, or a vision, or through an angel, or through Scriptures taken out of context—however it is that it happens, it’s God speaking to you. And without a doubt, the priority that they have is the rhema, word of God. Now, the problem with that is manifold, but foundationally, the fact of the matter is that those two words are not dealing with categories the way that these people set it up. The words are really synonyms in the Bible, and they both deal with the Word of God, and so they’ve created categories that really are foreign to the writers of the New Testament…
Keith: …and play these two words against each other. In reality, they mean the same thing…
Tom: Sure! They’re used interchangeably.
Keith: …they’re not used in specifics. Right, they’re used interchangeably in the Bible.
Tom: Right. Yeah. But that sets them up and, as I said, we’re going to talk about this more, especially when we get into hermeneutics, the objective Word of God, but that, basically—you know, you’re looking at these thousands of people—once they buy into that, then all they have to go by is what this individual says, what he claims to have heard from God, and there’s no way to check it out, and they keep reinforcing these ideas by saying, “Well, God is doing a new thing, or…”
Tom: “…this is progressive revelation.” What? That sounds like Mormonism, doesn’t it?
Keith: Yes! No, yes, it’s very similar to—in fact, it’s identical to the way that cults use the Scripture. Cults manipulate the Scripture out of context to justify their false doctrines. But they can point to a verse—Jehovah’s Witnesses have a verse for their teaching that only the 144,000 of the anointed class will be in heaven.
Keith: They have a verse. It’s out of context, it’s misinterpreted, but they have a verse. Mormons have a verse for the three levels of heaven out of 1 Corinthians 15. It’s manipulated, it’s out of context, but they have a verse. And so, what the modern prophets are doing is they’re using a cultic method of interpreting Scripture, and that is Scripture means whatever I say it means today…
Keith: …and if I don’t have a Scripture, then this is just a new revelation, it’s new wine; this is something that God has saved for this generation. And once a person buys into that, they no longer have an anchor. They no longer have a grid for judging truth from error, and they literally can be led astray by every wind of doctrine that blows through the church by the deceitfulness of men and their scheming, as Paul warned about in Ephesians 4.
Tom: Right. I think of a verse that, to me, it’s like one of these neon signs that keeps running across my mind, and that is 2 Timothy:4:3: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” And without going on in that verse, that’s all we have to take a look at. Anybody who’s observing what’s going on in Christianity, contemporary Christianity today, can see that sound doctrine is gone. It’s a wash, and we’re going to talk about even their view later, about what they—you know, how doctrine divides and they don’t want any part of it and so on, because if they did, if they appeal to doctrine, just as you pointed out, they’d have to close shop and move on.
Keith: Right, because the things that make them unique are all the things that place them outside of orthodox Christianity.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Again, we’re talking about literally thousands upon thousands of, in many cases, believers—mostly probably professing Christians—but this is having an impact that people aren’t aware of, as I said earlier. And this is why I think your book is so terrific, because it lays out not just what the teachings are, but how they are affecting people who at least aspire to know the Word of God, or claim to be biblical Christians, but it just pulls the rug out from under them, right?
Keith: Oh, correct. Again, if the Scripture means whatever the prophet means today, then you don’t have that objective standard for truth. The other thing is that most people, when they read the Bible, realize that they don’t see everything that these prophets see, so their assumption is because these guys clearly are super spiritual and very anointed, well, then, let’s leave that up to the prophet; and you find that many of these people become utterly dependent on the prophet, these modern prophets, for what God has said and for God’s direction, and so they’ll literally run up to them with notebooks and ask them the most inane questions about whether or not God has a word for them about taking particular job, or…so they just become dependent in every area.
Tom: And the sad part is, and again, living there, having done the research on the Kansas City Prophets, you know the immorality that had been a part of it—so, they can’t come to grips with that because, as you said, they’re dependent on these guys, so they can’t judge them doctrinally and then when they go astray morally or whatever they’re doing, they have no recourse but to hang in there with them, or come up with some kind of rationale that doesn’t make it seem what it actually is.
Keith: Right, they’re very highly invested, and so when you’ve become utterly dependent upon someone—again, it’s very similar to the people that we work with every day who are involved in cults—is you become dependent, you have invested heavily, no one likes to admit that they’ve been duped, and so it’s much easier to rationalize, blame the victim, come up with any idea as to why these men have failed rather than just admitting that they’re false prophets. And I think one of the most obvious evidences of that is just the way that people will excuse their false prophecy itself. The amount of false prophecy coming out of this movement is just vast; it’s overwhelming. One couldn’t even document all of it.
Keith: But people will continue to uphold all of these different leaders as legitimate prophets, because they’ve become so heavily invested. They cannot acknowledge the opposite.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, Keith, as you know well, like in most of this, they develop a rationale for it. For example, those who are promoting these prophecies and not concerned about whether they fall off the chart, or they’re wrong, or can be proven to be wrong, they say, “Well, all we need is about 65 percent accuracy rate,” which they claim is acceptable among these new prophets. Now, here’s the stunner: they’re talking about latter-day revelation…Keith, for example, you quote Wendy Alec, and her book, very popular, is Journal of the Unknown Prophet, and she claims that she’s received—these are the words that she’s received from Jesus: “For the Word alone is yesterday’s manna, and even they,” that is, the prophetic teachers, “have seen deep in their hearts that it is no longer enough to feed my people.” Now, we could go on with that, but related to false prophecies, she’s just trashed the Word of God, and worse—she’s blasphemed, I mean, all of that. Obviously, “yesterday’s manna…” what does that mean? According to the Scriptures, yesterday’s manna bred worms and it stunk.
Keith: “Bred worms and stank.” Yeah.
Tom: Yeah, exactly. But, nevertheless, with this attitude that now we have new revelation and the old stuff is to be put aside, and all we need to have is 65 percent accuracy…now, wait a minute: if this is new, better, more recent prophecies and you only need 65 percent, what about those old guys, okay, the old prophets who—they had to have 100 percent or they were stoned? You know, this stuff is unbiblical, irrational—it’s really ludicrous. But as you’ve been saying, people buy into it because they’ve been kind of ripped off the Word of God, and I don’t know another way to say it. That’s what’s taking place.
Keith: Right. And I think you’ve touched on a couple of things that are very important. One is there’s the exalted claim: “This is the greatest generation of apostles and prophets in the history of the church.” That’s the claim. In fact, the claim—many of the visions the prophets have seen show all of heaven standing in line to meet them, because they are so great. Again, very man-exalting, flesh-exalting in this movement. So, on the one hand, we claim to be the greatest generation ever, but then they all know that none of them can meet the biblical standard. The biblical standard in Deuteronomy:18:22 is that if a prophet speaks a word that doesn’t come to pass, this is a prophet the Lord has not sent. That prophet was to be taken out and stoned. They all know they can’t meet that standard, and so then they have all of these rationalizations for why it is that they miss, and it’s, “Well, they’re baby prophets, and babies make messes, and so they’re growing into their prophetic gifting.” Or that, “New Testament prophecy is different and not subject to the same standard,” or, “All of these things we only have to get 66 percent.” I’d like to meet the modern prophet that is 66 percent accurate…
Keith: …because I’ve read over 9,000 prophecies so far in my research. I’ve never run into that person. They’re not even remotely close. They’re not 50/50. They’re not as good as a carnival act many times. It’s a horrific amount of false prophecy. And the damage that that does to people’s lives I don’t think will be calculable this side of heaven. People who have followed the visions of these men end up making shipwreck of their faith because they were duped.
Tom: Keith, in your book, and we’ve got about four minutes left in this segment, but let’s start out with this: the critical necessity of hermeneutics for every believer, and I’m going to quote you, okay, from the book. But first I want to tell you this: I had the privilege of preaching last Sunday in a church, a Bible-believing church, terrific fellowship, and I just, because it was part of my message, I asked them, “Who here knows the term ‘hermeneutics?’” Out of a couple hundred people, maybe three or four people raised their hand. You know, and then I say, “Well, not to worry, because you’ve been practicing hermeneutics since you first learned to talk, okay?”
Keith: That’s right.
Tom: But still, the important thing is, and I want you to go over this, because, you know, we’ve been talking about the errors, but the safeguard, the prevention is in hermeneutics. Give us a little background for that.
Keith: Sure. And you said that people have been practicing hermeneutics since they learned how to talk, and that’s true. Hermeneutics at its root is just how do we interpret language. And so how do we know what something that is written or said means? When we think about the Bible, it’s the art and science of biblical interpretation; that’s what biblical hermeneutics is. And in good hermeneutics, we look at things like context. Context is extremely important. The Bible’s not a series of isolated statements, so we look at the larger paragraph, we look at the chapter, we look at the entire book, to understand the theme. So context is important. We look at the grammar, because word meanings are important. We look at the historical setting and the historical context, because words meant something in the time that they were written to understand what that means. So all of these things then help us to come to what was the author’s intent when he wrote that passage, because God has chosen to give us His revelation of Himself through human language, through human authors who meant what they wrote, and so we’re going back to the intent of the author and then once we understand what the author is saying, then we can begin to apply it. But we have to begin with proper understanding.
Tom: Absolutely. A point that I’m really trying to hammer home for myself as well as the articles and the opportunities I have to speak is that the Bible is God’s direct communication to mankind. If it’s not, then all we’re left with is opinions, speculations, ideas, so-called scholarship of men, and Corinthians tells us that the natural man cannot understand these things. We have to have it from God or we’re just, at best, confused, and certainly a delusion takes over that we can’t know God, we just cannot know God unless we have His direct communication to us, which is what the Bible claims, and there’s support for that, but that’s the claim.
Keith: Right, and the Bible was meant to be understood. I think that’s very important.
Tom: Of course. By…
Keith: The Lord gave it to be understood.
Tom: Yeah, by everyday man. Or, now we’ve gotten an elite class of scholars who are, again, falling into the realm of dictating to us what it says. No. That’s not the way the Word of God works.
Keith: Right. If we look at something as simple as Deuteronomy:6:4-9 where the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Ye shall love the Lord your God, and these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your children.” I’ve kind of paraphrased through that passage to get to that point: the idea that a Jewish man could teach these words to his children presupposes that he himself could correctly understand them, and so God gave His Word in a form that a normal person with the guidance of the Holy Spirit could read that Word, understand it, apply it to his own life, teach it to his children without having to have a super prophet or apostle explain it to him.
Tom: Right. Now, that’s hermeneutics. That’s what the Bible teaches. We’re out of time for this segment, but next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to deal with the other side, the prophetic hermeneutic, which we’ll be able to see. This is so contrary to the Word of God and, the Lord willing, we’ll cover that next week.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of materials to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, OR, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org.
In our next program, Tom will continue his discussion with Keith Gibson, author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. We hope you can join us. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.