Weird or Winsome - A Look at the Kansas City Prophets
First, in that God is so gracious with me, it is quite out of my normal mode to be critical of a particular church community. People believe things because they earnestly want the good for themselves and their families. I do not discuss politics usually because I detest the demonization of people just because they differ in their opinions. BUT… what follows is written because I believe I have been given some very unique experiences which can help people avoid a spirituality which I know to be harmful.
Also, what I am publishing today isn't edited, so I will later go back and re-write. In the meantime, make any comments you think might be helpful. I hope this helps.
Before I start this post, I want to give a little background. I began attending the Anaheim Vineyard in 1987 while I was in seminary at Talbot Theological Seminary. In December 1988, the Vineyard invited Paul Cain to speak at the "Spiritual Warfare" conference at Anaheim. I remember getting a call at my work by a friend saying, "You gotta come to church tonight. This guy is amazing." For the next three years, the Vineyard, myself included, were completely engulfed by the prophetic movement. I was a relatively new believer. I had become a Christian in 1986 after graduating from University.
Knowing God and the Early Vineyard
Being from the Vineyard, we had a very gracious, and I believe accurate, understanding of the Gospel. The Vineyard under the leadership of John Wimber was very compassionate, and the people, for the most part, were quite prayerful, gentle and kind. Before I even arrived at a Vineyard service, I had begun reading Reformed writers and biography. It was actually after hearing a friend give a talk, at seminary, on Martyn Lloyd-Jones that I began attending the Vineyard. He had said that the place, which believed most like Lloyd-Jones, was the Vineyard, so I went. In other words, the Vineyard was a place where knowing God through the bible and experience, like the piety of the Reformed Revivalists, was modeled rather well in Vineyard worship and prayer. The Vineyard seemed to be, to me at least, more like the story of the Whitfield's and Edward's of history than mainstream evangelicalism.
I found this God-centeredness and passion for God to be a very true description of the early Vineyard.
Nonetheless, I being very short on experience of different nuances of Christian practice and theology was not equipped to see the serious problems that came with the KC Prophets.
The Kansas City Prophets
By the Kansas City prophets I mean the following people:
Mike Bickle, pastor of the Kansas City Fellowship
Paul Cain, the most highly regarded of the "prophets"
Bob Jones, the "prophet" from Kansas City
Rick Joyner, another "prophet".
John Paul Jackson, another "prophet"
Jack Deere, the very smart guy from Dallas.
The result of these men being embraced by the Vineyard was disastrous. When I first came to the Vineyard, it was growing. John Wimber had come back from a busy conference schedule to the pastorate, and the Vineyard seemed to be getting back to evangelism. It was very easy to invite people to church. The worship was great, and it wasn't too weird. As soon as the KC prophets came, all the real evangelism appeared to stop. This change was apparent to John Wimber and Todd Hunter and others and, I know it was troubling. Later after John Wimber realized he had made a big mistake in letting the KC Prophets into the Vineyard, John began to preach for about a year on the theme: "Dance with Who Brung Ya." His point was to go back to the Vineyard as it originally was. Evangelism and Compassion. But the damage was done and the road to recovery has been indeed a long one. I have not visited the Anaheim Vineyard in many years, and I do really respect their current pastor BUT..he has a long row to hoe to bring a full recovery to what once was a truly beautiful local church.
This post is intended to distill what I think are the key poisons that came into the Spirituality of many people through the KC Prophets.
I will articulate what I think are the key practical and theological problems with the KC Prophets. They are:
The Dispensation of the End Times. The KC Prophets introduced a "Dispensation of the End-Times". This error undermines the Grace of the Gospel.
Anti-discernment. The word from hell, "God offends the mind to reveal the heart".
Speculative understanding of Causation. You know it when you see it.
I contend if we can deeply understand these errors, those of us who desires more of God can walk the narrow road between dry evangelicalism on the right and the destructive practices of hyper-spirituality on the left, and, ultimately, we can find a deep abiding love for God.
The Dispensationalism of the End Times - The Word from Paul Cain
When I was a young Christian, I took the bible for what it meant, and I still do. The foundation of my theology is the idea of Spiritual Union. As born-again believers, we are one spirit with Christ. Gal. 2:20 says, "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me". Therefore, my faith is such that I have very high expectations of the Gospe,l and I have high expectations for the normal mode of Christian life. Particularly, the bible teaches that we have been given everything necessary for life and Godliness.
My personal life purpose statement is "Expanding the kingdom by becoming an ever more beautiful community and living every aspect of the life of Christ." As a reader of 18th century books and as a lover of St. Francis, my emphasis has always been that we are called and equipped to live a Morally Beautiful Life. Does something historic have to happen for me to be equipped or do I need simply to understand and believe in what the bible already says? I need only to understand, through the preaching of the word and through community, to learn to live the story that is my inheritance according to the finished work of Christ. The bible neither teaches that all the holiness and power was used up in the 1st century and now we should expect little help from God nor does it teach that I need to wait for some end-times super apostle to come with the goods. It is vital to realize that in the immediate present, we exist in a dispensation of instantaneous access to all we need for both Power and Holiness. The present that I live in is dispensationally speaking exactly the same as the Apostolic age and will remain the same dispensation until Christ returns.
This once and for all Gospel is not what dispensationalist nor what the KC Prophets preach.
The first word which Paul Cain spoke in 1988 at the Spiritual Warfare conference was, "There will be a wind of holiness followed by a wind of power". This word was poison.
This concept is saying that holiness is a condition of power. I could write a book on how destructive this word was and is. This "word" is saying that the Lord will use you to heal and bless other's after he is done "making you holy". If that were true, we all might as well head for the hills and become monks. I am not even close to holy, and yet God uses me all the time. In fact, I find that the Lord gives grace not to the holy but the humble. I don't know about you but "I'm just a fat man going to heaven." To believe that we have to attain a level of holiness prior to receiving all the benefits of the gospel is heresy. Plain and simple. The entire beauty of the gospel is that your personal history has nothing to do with God giving you a beautiful robe, a ring on your finger, sandals on your feet, and a feast to end all feasts.
The fruit of this "word" was that the Vineyard as a movement stopped "doing the stuff" in the present, and, instead, the church began to wait for an end-times future that is yet to come.
The true gospel of the kingdom is that the great eschatological event that sets us free is not the coming of the end time revival but the cross of Jesus Christ.
The "Word" from Bob Jones - God Offends the Mind to Reveal the Heart
It took me awhile to understand how subtle and destructive Paul Cain's word about the winds was, but this word offended me from the get go.
Bob Jones was just plain weird, and his person just naturally makes one feel like something is just not quite right. Our ability to perceive that a person has some mental or emotional dysfunction is often more accurate than our ability to put it into words. The "God offends the mind to reveal the heart" word was the KC prophets ultimate defense mechanism against a person's natural wisdom.
The word was in essence saying, "Don't trust your discernment. The hyper-spiritual are always offensive to the uninitiated".
Don’t trust your own mind is a total manipulative, cultic, de-humanizing lie from hell (did I say that out loud??). The Holy Spirit brings clarity not confusion.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!!! Don't put two and two together and judge these men by their fruit. They are the hyper-spiritual men in the know.
Here is my principle God makes us winsome not weird. I came through this experience with one coalescing concept - Moral Beauty. If the fruit of a man's life is that he is morally beautiful and filled with love and joy, then there is a good chance that that person is a good person to ask how to raise your family and how to be a better person. You shall know them by their fruit is the exact opposite of "God offends the mind to reveal the heart." We are to use our natural discernment to judge both people's teachings and their lives.
This "word" is the exact opposite of what I teach my kids. I want my children to be wise and to make wise decisions. I do not want my children to throw all caution to the wind and make decisions that are clearly "unnatural and unwise". The actual fruit of this word was that the more un-wise something appears on the outside the more "spiritual" it is. This word left a wake of destruction in every person that recieved it.
This "word" totally undermines all sanctification.
Let's say you are counseling someone. This person cannot keep a job because he makes too many mistakes at work. He makes too many mistakes at work because, he stays up all night praying or because he lacks basic organizational skills. As a pastor, I would try to teach him to take responsibility for his actions and take practical steps to learn how to be organized or how to get enough sleep. We need to be assets to our employers.
Then, in come the hyper-spiritual prophets. "Don't listen to that pastor. The Lord says you are being purged and persecuted by the devil. God always puts his special children through such difficulties. Your gifting is an offense to your pastor because he, in his controlling nature, doesn’t want you to continue in your pursuit of your end time calling.
NO NO NO!!!! The leader of the church is to be of good repute to outsiders. The natural discernment of the common man should say that our life is very healthy and our life is beautiful. People think we are weird because we are weird. God calls us to be winsome not weird.
Well, all this is enough for now. Tomorrow...
Speculative Views of Causation…