Section 7 of 14
This featured on our "Renewal" page
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It is a fair question to ask this regarding many of the present-day 'renewalists': Are they in the same error as the Shakers were? They certainly don't appear to have started out the same way as the Shakers did. That is, they have not been unorthodox in Biblical doctrine like the Shakers were from their very inception. It would be unfair to overlook that fact and to imply otherwise. Besides, the majority of them at least, aren't as yet talking to the dead saints (well, one or two are) But that is about where the separation ends. Because of the leaven of the 'positive only' agenda and the willingness to overlook Scripture for this purpose, far too many are wandering John Meachams, ready to embrace the Gnostic doctrine.

The 'manifestations' are not necessarily the primary problem—these could be interpreted in a variety of ways and have been present in a variety of historical settings. Instead of focusing on them to the exclusion of all else, they could at least be viewed in their proper perspective or dealt with more appropriately. It is the 'manifestations' PLUS a 'favorable, no-matter-what' explanation for spiritual experiences, however, that denotes certain danger. For the individual believer, this means they are encouraged not to be concerned that some of these 'manifestations' might be demonic manifestations, even though that is completely viable. For the leader, this means that his church or denomination has been blessed or chosen for 'revival', which to them may mean God's unqualified favor. They then allow 'manifestations' to be overly exalted by both their followers and peers, and there is no real defense for this.

If you are like John Meacham, anxious for the supernatural workings of God, and if you believe that something of a supernatural 'manifestation' or demonstration of 'power' proves that God is favoring the leader or group involved: Stop. Go back. Examine more than the 'power' or 'charisma'. Examine the doctrine, the fruit, and the Word. Most of all, examine yourself and your motives, and by the strength of God you can avoid John Meacham's error.

Or, if you are like Ann Lee, and have had a powerful spiritual experience, do not be anxious to accept it or interpret it according to your own bias. Stop. Examine the Word. Examine your motives. Talk to and listen to mature sisters or brothers. Remain sober please and remind yourself that even if there is spiritual power of some kind, and even if a John Meacham comes along and lends his support, this does not necessarily mean you are correct. The Bible is the standard. Not your 'manifestations,' nor the John Meachams of the world. Most of all, do not be compelled to lead others on the basis of your subjective experiences, even if a 'Jesus' appears to you.

There are people who, as far as I have ever known, refuse to stop and examine. For instance, I have personally attempted dialogue with a lady who had what I could only describe as a vulgar encounter with a 'Jesus'. In a vision at a renewal meeting, this so-called 'Jesus' introduced himself as a 'fiancee' and then proceeded to wash her nude body.

Shocked by this vision and somewhat embarrassed for her, I decided to carefully approach her via e-mail concerning her vision. I introduced myself as a 'pro-renewalist' who was concerned that she may have been approached by a false spirit who masqueraded as Jesus. For evidence that a false spirit might imitate Jesus or another Biblical character and leave the recipient of the vision with a 'feel good' sensation, I referred her to an old 70's book The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen (ISBN 0-89081-322-1). I explained to her that "being saved does not prevent spiritual attack, whether you 'asked' for it, or not."

I also stated, "Overall, there is a patent lie in this vision--and the lie is the representation of Jesus as the 'fiancee'. I am no stranger to Jesus representing Himself as 'fiancee' or 'friend' or 'Lord' or any number of Biblically/spiritual roles, which also mimic intimacy in the needed way for the moment. He represents Himself in various ways in the Scripture to His disciples, for instance. However, this spirit is not a 'fiancee' in any sense of the word. No 'fiancee', in the spirit or in the natural, would undress or wash or view his betrothed in this matter. This violates all Jewish and even most Gentile codes of conduct for fiancee or the betrothed."

I saw her as a sister in trouble. It was clear from her response though that she did not agree with me on this. She would not even consider anything I said, and immediately refused any further dialogue with me.

My original challenge to her was over a year ago. However, her original vision occurred in 1998 and by 1999, others had probably challenged her over it too. After all, I had found out about it because of a critic's website who used it to paint renewalists as occultic. After all, this person had been promoted as a 'renewal leader' before, and has set herself up as a teacher of the prophetic in moderated (controlled), renewal e-mail forums.

I recall this same person had a vision once before, which included meeting and talking to Biblical figures such as John the Baptist. Are people like her involved in a false revival just like the Shakers? That is indeed a valid question. The 'vision' had, after all, occurred at one of the regular renewal meetings at her church. Are people like her another Ann Lee, or worse? As you encounter them and their visions and their doctrines, you will have to decide.

As of today however, her 'cleansing' vision is still published on her ministry website. Therefore, I do not begrudge the 'critic' websites that sound alarms over visions like hers and I hope you will not either.

The applications for today's 'renewal' are obvious. Depending on subjective interpretations is dangerous. Being convinced by our own 'inner witness' can just mean that we are being more and more deceived. Once the Bible is no longer in the running as a real standard, inner group and individual interpretation can become more and more bizarre while devotion to strange doctrines and their very sincere, yet overly-exalted leaders becomes deeper and deeper. Visions, 'manifestations' or any other supernatural power do not prove God's favor. Instead of twisting the scriptures, ignoring them, or avoiding any reasonable mental scrutiny for a 'feel good' interpretation, we must be willing to toss aside our subconscious wishes in favor of the humility of being wrong.

All Christians could learn this lesson, no matter what the case.

© Copyright 2000  by Teri Lee Earl All Rights Reserved

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