What is the Power Hungry Heresy?

DISCLAIMER: Staff from CWC were heavily involved in the Charismatic/NARismatic movements. The observations and commentaries below are based on their histories, experiences and views which they have since repented from. The label given to this heresy was a result of many experiences where they heard sermons and various catch cries always resulting in the same outcome – wanting God’s power evident in their lives and in their churches. Since reflecting on their experiences and watching all the revivals from 1948 til now, this, they believe, is an accurate title and description of the motivation behind the heresy:

THE POWER HUNGRY HERESY – A ‘BAD FRUIT’

Have you ever wondered why Charismatics and those in the New Apostolic Reformation (NARismatics), sing or teach about the Spirit ‘pouring’ or ‘filling’ up the believer? Have you wondered what leaders mean when they encourage people to ‘hunger’ or ‘thirst’ for God? This was something we never questioned or challenged until the last few years.

All we knew was that we could not evangelise or faithfully represent God to those in our personal lives unless we went to church or had worship sessions where God once again ‘filled us’ with his Spirit. We use to sing the Vineyard songs requesting, “More love, more power, more of You in my life” and Hillsong music where we stood, “with arms high and heart abandoned.” Do you remember singing, “Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me” or “Anoint me with fresh oil?” What about the song ‘Consuming Fire’ that opened up with the line, “There must be more than this,” – the crescendo wailing and repeating the line, “Fill us up in our hearts Lord”? What about the haunting melody of “Take Me In” where we “hunger and thirst for your righteousness.” What is this? What are certain individuals wanting us to believe or pursue?

Yes, they fed our emotions on Sunday and made us feel spiritual. But nothing more. These were dead words before a dead man-made god who never got closer or further away. Now we repent of our vain repetitions.

Power Hungry Heresy

The result of this heresy made us paralyzed in evangelism and useless in the workplace. We were never sure if the power of God was going to show up or manifest in our lives. Instead we sought more ‘soaking, pickling, marinating’ – being more ‘filled’, hoping one day we could be effective in evangelism. If we did talk to someone, we were more worried about the ‘spirit’ not being there instead of enjoying a persons company and giving them the gospel.

The rejection of this heresy made us more passionate for the Word, more educated in ‘bringing down lofty opinions with the Word of God’ and in presenting a gospel to a lot more people than we could ever imagine – both in the church and outside.

This doctrine is the fruit of the controversial ‘dominion mandate’ and heretical ‘power gospel’, which is why we called this heresy the Power Hungry Heresy. We were told to hunger after God’s power to make ourselves more influential, successful and prominent in the church and in the community. But why are we told in the church to want “more of God” when the Psalmist declared this truth about Jesus, our shepherd?

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.Psalm 23:1


OUR INVESTIGATIONS

In this article – we look at a very popular teaching in the Charismatic/NARismatic movement that is literally tempting Christians to exchange the power of God for a lie.

Our personal investigations left us repenting that we ever embraced the ideas that we need to get ‘more’, or be more ‘hungry’ or ‘thirsty’, for God. So where did these ideas come from? It came from false teachings from the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) cult.

The ‘Power Hungry’ Heresy’ is a bad fruit of the false gospel of the NOLR, Charismatic and NARismatic movements. The evidence is plain to see – the Christian gospel of forgiveness has been replaced with this ‘gospel of power’.

This has resulted in replacing the kingdom of God with the New Age kingdom of darkness, replacing the Holy Spirit with a false New Age spirit and replacing a biblical anthropology with a New Age anthropology. The fruit of this gospel can often be heard through the theology (and even the worship) of Charismatic and NARismatic churches and gatherings. But to know where this doctrine came from, again we have to look at the beginnings of the New Order of the Latter Rain cult.


BUILDING A FALSE GOSPEL – REINVENTING MAN

It is hard to manufacture a false gospel in Christianity unless other false teachings provide a scaffold or framework to lay it down as ‘gospel’. When the New Order of the Latter Rain cult was birthed through the teachings of Franklin Hall and William Branham, a New Age spirit came into the church that reflected the heretics and cult leaders of Christian Science and theosophical and Unity cults in the previous centuries.

An example of the New Age influencing the NOLR was Franklin Hall and William Branham’s obsession with the Zodiac, their superstitious beliefs and sciences around atomic power, pyramids and aliens and also the human anthropological makeup.

They helped popularize the belief that man is made up of body, soul and spirit, (this is a New Age belief). It was proposed that when a Christian is born again and in union with the Holy Spirit – they needed to believe the ‘Full’ or ‘Whole’ Gospel of the Kingdom. If they believed that this ‘gospel’ could heal them, then their spirit, along with the Holy Spirit, could manifest divine power through their soul and into their flesh, so they could be fully healed and made whole. Franklin Hall believed this divine supernatural healing power could be made manifest through fasting and prayer. Below is a diagram of his thinking in his book ‘ Atomic Power With God’ (1946), a work that helped shaped the teachings of Branham and the NOLR:

Franklin Hall - Diagram3-Anthropology2

Notice the words “ideal man,” “wells of living water,” “spirit completely yielded,” and “abundance of the oil of the spirit.” This is the framework that helped develop the heresy we will flesh out more below. But it is worth noting that the NOLR cult claimed believers could obtain perfection and divinity this side of the resurrection. Franklin Hall states (emphasis added in bold):

“After Jesus received the Holy Spirit, although he was the son of God […] He did not begin to MANIFEST HIS SONSHIP until after He had fasted for forty days. As children of God we will need to follow Jesus in fasting and prayer, if we expect to manifest spiritual life and power, as did our Lord. There is no other way to have a full manifestation of spirituality but through fasting and prayer, and there is, according to St. Paul, no other remedy for the groaning and suffering of creation than a complete manifestation of the children of God, as far as is possible here on earth.”

Source: Franklin Hall, Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting. 2016 Reprint of 1950 Edition.

This is because the result of this teaching taught that just as Jesus was the son of God who modelled how to manifest His sonship, believers born again of the spirit can manifest ‘divine sonship’ as well. This was then called the ‘Manifest Sons of God’, a heresy that caused some leaders of the NOLR to leave the group. It appears Hall may have been the first to use this. When he bemoaned the fact that were countless wars, famines and diseases plaguing the earth, he concluded why it was all happening (emphasis ours):

“Why? It is because the sons of God, and more of the children of God are not manifesting. The cry of countless millions in Asia and Africa, the cries of starving multitudes that are dying all over the world after this second world war have reached a high, shrill pitch of suffering. It is all because the sons of God are not manifesting themselves.

Source: Franklin Hall, Atomic Power With God Through Prayer and Fasting. 2016 Reprint of 1950 Edition.

We now need to look at how the NOLR understood Christ in relation to making his church a very power-dominant church across the face of the earth.


BUILDING A FALSE TRINITY – REINVENTING THE GODHEAD

William Branham - Latter Rain hereticBranham and Hall never appeared to change their views on Christ and the Holy Spirit. So while it is more difficult to find some of their earlier teachings prior to the NOLR, their extreme teachings about Christ and the Holy Spirit are on full display in their followers’ sermon archives. In this case, we will only review Hall’s teachings through Branham regarding Christ and the Holy Spirit.

To start, we need to look at how they saw the ‘Latter Rain’ outpouring that happened in their 1948 revival. You will note that Joel 2:28 was written in Hebrew and not Greek and that Branham is importing the Greek ‘kenos’ into the Hebraic text thus promoting the kenosis heresy:

“In Joel 2:28, He promised, that, “In this last days there would be a latter rain poured out upon the people, in the last days.” I think the Greek word there is kenos, which means that He “emptied” His self out. Not in the way that we would say, like something was inside of somebody, that He emptied out. But, He poured Himself out.”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: The Mighty God Unveiled Before Us, Living Word Broadcast, https://www.lwbcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=64-0629.htm, At Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, PA, 29/06/1964. [Cache]

So who is the ‘He’ in “He poured Himself out”? Let’s back track and see by what revelation Branham thought of the Father and Son:

“The Bible said that God emptied (You know what you do, when we empty anything?)–emptied Himself into Christ. Just think. God emptied Himself into Christ. And Christ thought it not robbery to be equal with God, for He was God.”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: He Swore By Himself, Living Word Broadcast, https://www.livingwordbroadcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=54-1212.htm, At Branham Tabernacle, Jeffersonville, IN, 12/12/1954. [Cache]

This is an extreme form of the Kenosis heresy. If God the Father emptied Himself into just a man, than the Father ceased to be God. If that which was not God (Jesus the Christ), became God, then Jesus was never God to begin with. The issue is then, who or what is Jesus?

He never died as God. He died as a man. The sin of man was upon the Son of man, and He had to become a man in order to pay the penalty. What did He do? The Bible said He was made a little lower than the Angels in order for death that He might take away and abolish sin and take away sickness from the world. Now, when He came down from the highest, Logos from God, He came down through Angels, and came down, and was made a man, and He said, “I am not even a man. I am a worm and no man,” for He was despised and rejected.”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: The Mighty Conqueror, Branham.ru, http://branham.ru/message/message10cf.html?sermonum=309, Sermon at Branham Tabernacle in Jeffersonville, Indiana, 01/04/1956. (Accessed 29/07/2017.) [Cached] [Archived]

So if Jesus died not as God but as a man, how did Jesus “take away and abolish sin and take away sickness from the world?”

“You know what He did? That was the highest thing of heaven become the lowest thing on earth to redeem you and I. Just think. Jesus became me, a sinner, that I, a sinner, might become as He, a Son of God. Jesus became me that I could become Him.

Source: William Branham, Sermon: The Faith Of Abraham, Branham.ru, http://branham.ru/message/message3d38.html?sermonum=288, Sermon at Tent Meeting, San Fernando, CA, 18/11/1955. (Accessed 29/07/2017.) [Cached]

So it appears that Branham’s kenotic Christ seemed to pour out his deity at the cross and became a sinner so that a sinner could become deity. The teaching here echoes a lot of the teachers heard in the Charismatic and NARismatic movements (Joyce Meyer, Bennyy Hinn, Bill Johnson, Brian Houston, etc). Because this gospel emphasizes the ‘as he is, so are we,’ we can start to see how this ‘god’ will bring to bear the ‘manifest sons of God’ (aka New Breed). But how is this connected to the ‘Power Hungry Heresy’? To answer this we need to look at how Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interchangeable in this kenosis theology.

“God was in His Son reconciling the world to Himself. God’s manifestation–God Almighty emptied Himself into Jesus Christ. That’s right. And Jesus Christ emptied Himself into the Church. Hallelujah.”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: Show Us The Father, Living Word Broadcast, https://www.livingwordbroadcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=54-0811.htm, At Shriner Temple, Los Angeles, CA, 11/08/1954. [Archive]

Didn’t the Holy Spirit come up on the church? Does Branham really believe that Jesus is the Spirit?

“God wants you to get well. God is in His creation, you believe it? God is in His Word, you believe it? God was in His Son, you believe it? God emptied Himself in Jesus Christ, you believe it? Jesus Christ emptied Himself into the Church, is that right?”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: Show Us The Father, Living Word Broadcast, https://www.livingwordbroadcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=54-0811.htm, At Shriner Temple, Los Angeles, CA, 11/08/1954. [Archive]

And,

“And all that Christ was, He poured into the church, not into one individual, but into the entire Body. There where we come together in unity, we have power. All that God was, was in Christ, and all that Christ was, is in you.”

Source: William Branham, Sermon: What Was The Holy Ghost Given For?, Living Word Broadcast, https://www.livingwordbroadcast.org/LWBWBTextfiles/gettf.php?textfile=59-1217.htm, At Branham Tabernacle, Jeffersonville, IN, 17/12/1959. [Archive]

Branham is teaching modalism, (the Son and Spirit being different modes – not persons – of God). To demonstrate that the Latter Rain is modalistic in nature (though many will protest the thought and the idea), we must stress an important doctrine that emerged because of their emphasis of Christ pouring himself into the church as the “latter rain” of Joel 2:28 “in the last days,” and that is the restoration of the five fold ministry (the NOLR called these the ascension gifts).

The NOLR rightly teach that Christ is THE Apostle, THE Prophet, THE Evangelist, THE Shepherd and THE Teacher. But they are wrong in thinking Jesus (the spirit) poured Himself and His offices out into the Latter-day church. After all, it was the NOLR that claimed Jesus restored to their movement the office of Apostle and Prophet.

Needless to say, it is taught one does not obtain this supernatural measure of Jesus Christ in water baptism. It is obtained through the second baptism, which Charismatics and NARismatics call the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’ or ‘Spiritual Baptism’. This spiritual baptism was what experienced in the Latter Rain revival.

Just like the Latter Rain, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Ern Baxter, a leader of the NOLR even argued “The Holy Spirit is Christ” and claimed “The Holy Spirit is the existential Jesus” (hear sermon review in link). That is a fairly accurate way of articulating the spirit of the charismatic and NARismatic movements. Consider this idiom one hears often in the Charismaticism and NARismaticism:

“Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart.”

The idea that Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart is absurd. However, Jesus said He will send the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and repent. It is the Holy Spirit that enters a believer’s heart. Another phrase, “The King is in residence here,” is also not true. It is no wonder that Charismatics and NARismatics embrace modalistic NARpostles like TD Jakes and Tommy Tenney.

19CWCPortrait_TD Jakes

It should also come as no surprise that Charismatics and NARismatics also espouse modalism (eg. Isi De Gersigny, Rolland Baker). As we’ve heard with Branham, this is because of their understanding of manifesting as ‘sons of God’ (as He is, so are we). To manifest the Holy Spirit is to manifest as individual Jesus’ or ‘little gods’. NAR Prophet Bob Jones made that abundantly clear claiming that when Jesus returns, “little Jesus’ will be running around” at Todd Bentley’s Lakeland revival in 2008.


REINVENTING THE GOSPEL AND THE KINGDOM

Because of the emphasis on an experiential spirit “filling” up believers to overflow, this resulted in rejecting the gospel rightly preached to embracing a faith-less gospel moving specifically in signs and wonders. True gospel believers live by faith and not by sight. These ‘gospel believers’ live by sight and not by faith. They are dissatisfied with scripture and want something moreWilliam Branham captured this anti-gospel sentiment after the disseminated teachings of the Latter Rain in other parts of the world:

“So I believe that we’ll take God’s Word as the Rule and to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel came not in word only but through power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. So the gospel is demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit.

I went into nations where they say, “Now we don’t want missionaries. We know more about it than you do. But the thing we want to see is somebody who’s got faith enough to make God’s Word manifest.” That’s what they want to see. And that’s how they get converted. That’s how they find Christ. It’s because they believe in that manner.”” [Source] (Emphasis ours.)

The result/fruit of this ‘Power Gospel’ (aka Gospel of the Kingdom) was a famine of God’s Word in the Charismatic/NARismatic movement.

The New Testament compares a Christian’s water baptism to Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea. However, specifically within the NAR, they justify their second baptism, (spiritual baptism) to the crossing of the Jordan to the Promised Land. It is then taught that they now have access to enter the kingdom of God (the violent take it by force) and to take dominion of what is rightfully theirs. They are to take the Kingdom by faith like Joshua and Caleb – and not be doubters (like the rest of Christianity).

Apostles in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) are called Generals and Joshua’s, advancing the ‘Kingdom of God’ on earth until the kingdom of this world becomes the “kingdoms of our Lord” (Revelations 11:15). C. Peter Wagner, a the leader of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), put it this way:

“But Jesus came as the second Adam. He brought the kingdom of God to earth and sent His disciples out to preach the gospel of the kingdom. He has now commissioned us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to advance His kingdom, to push Satan’s kingdom back and to retake the dominion that rightly belongs to the human race. […] The human race is enormously better off now than it was when Jesus died and was raised from the dead 2,000 years ago! Satan is losing ground more and more rapidly. […]

The battle will be ferocious, and we will suffer some casualties along the way. However, we will continue to push Satan back and disciple whole nations.

We are aggressively retaking dominion, and the rate at which this is happening will soon become exponential. The day will come when “‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever’” (Rev. 11:15, NKJV)![Archived]

So if you want to advance/expand/enlarge the ‘Kingdom of God’, you need to move in kingdom power and authority. You need to hunger and thirst to see his kingdom come and have that ‘deep loving intimacy’ with God that people like Heidi Baker supposedly walk in.


CONCLUSION – REPLACING THE WORD OF GOD WITH TESTIMONY 

What’s fascinating is that it was Franklin Hall who had the NOLR fixed on fasting and praying to see God move in power. This only highlighted the fact that this sect was starving themselves to see the power of God. When something did finally happen, they were swept up in a frenzy, devouring anything that appeared ‘supernatural’, claiming all paraphernalia was God-ordained. Needless to say that the result of this ‘outpouring’ has been disastrous.

No longer did Christians want to gather to receive sound biblical teaching or be convicted of their sins, no longer did they find comfort or assurance in the Lord’s Supper and their baptism, they wanted proof that God was ALIVE among them through the false ‘Power Gospel’. This was evident in the ministry of William Branham.

Rather than be satisfied and nourished in the Word of God, they strained, starved and despaired when they were told by false teachers to seek:

  • the voice of God,
  • power encounters,
  • power experiences,
  • healings, signs and wonders,
  • heavenly tourism experiences,
  • ‘personal intimacy’,  and so on.(Worship, music or certain anointed individuals would often help aid Christians to ‘be filled’ so they can access this ‘supernatural’ infilling, so that Jesus/Spirit could interact with them.)

As a result of the above, people replaced their assurance in the Word of God, with the assurance of personal testimonies – which were often mystical or very emotional. The power of the testimony resulted in what is often called ‘the haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.

Many Charismatics and some NARismatic have personally struggled with the issue of the testimony because of the division it causes because of the ‘filled’ and ‘not filled’. (We call this, ‘Keeping up with the spiritual Jones’.)

A good but sad example of this Power Hungry Heresy and its fruit of personal testimony can be heard by NARpostle Edgar Mayer of the Australian Lutheran Renewal Movement (LRM).

It was Mayer’s hunger (which was nothing more than dissatisfaction in God and His Word), that had him depart from the faith (emphasis added):

“You know, the answer that I get from the channels say, “Edgar. You shouldn’t just always chase experiences. We have to hang on to the objective truth. You know? Let’s hang on to the objective truth that people are baptized. Point them back to their baptism!”

Right? It’s – – not the answer. It doesn’t work like that. It’s not as simple as that.

Of course you go back to the baptism! Of course you go back to Jesus dying on the cross for all sinners! Of course you go back to grace! Of course you go back to all the promises of God! But that in itself, knowing that, is no guarantee that I’m saved or that God is pleased with me.” [Source]

The sermon we transcribed this from is titled “The Hungry Will Always Get Fed.” But Edgar makes it clear that this hunger is now directed to people’s testimonies, not the word of God (as evident from the above quote). Because God spoke to other people, he became dissatisfied:

“And I myself, I was dry. You know, I was praying. I never heard God talk back to me. Never had a sense I was guided by him. Um. The traditional way of worship, always saying the same words. That just didn’t work for me. And then I noticed that it didn’t really work for the majority of the congregation, either.

Because, not only did I have no converts, I had a constant trickle of young families that left the church! And they weren’t offended with me or anything! It just- they probably felt like I was: “God! Where are you?”

So I was hungry. I got a bit desperate and I prayed. I said, “God. If that’s all there is to ministry, you can have it back. I can’t face another thirty years of that.”[28:28]

Not only is this confession tragic, it has now made Edgar incredibly dangerous. Because he departed from scripture and relied on personal testimonies and anecdotes to ‘feed’ people, the hunger and desperation kicks in and people want their lives to have the same level of power as others. Again, the natural result of this is ‘the manifest sons of God’ heresies coming into play (emphasis ours):

“If you hear testimonies of God and how a relationship with God can be. And you sit there and you think, ‘Hey, I don’t really know at all what they’re talking about. I don’t know what it means to have the peace of God in my life. I don’t know what it means to pray and get a sense of God talking back to me.’

If you know passages in the bible that don’t make sense to you, it says, you know, ‘The Holy Spirit testifies with your spirit that you’re a child of God.’ The Spirit of God- God comes- it comes with a spirit of sonship.

And by this spirit of sonship, we cry ‘Abba- Dear Father,’ out of trust. If all of that doesn’t make and sense, you know I encourage you not to shut it down. I encourage us as a church not to shut it down but to become hungry.” [1:20:12] 

Shut what down? What do you need to be hungry for? The testimonies? The testimonies of what? How you too can have the power of God manifest in your life as a son.

This is why at Bethel and Hillsong they will read out praise reports. These testimonies are encouraging people to hunger for more of God and his power in their lives. This is why there is such emphasis on testimonies  in Morningstar Ministries and Catch the Fire cults – they want your ‘deep to call unto His deep’. Different methods. Different catch cries. Same results and focus -it’s about getting the power of God in your life to make your life better.

This is starvation, manipulation and delusion at its finest. This begs the obvious questions:

Why are we allowing false apostles, prophets and teachers to convince us God’s Word is not enough? Why are we allowing them to starve us when Christ assures us in his Word that if we drink and eat of Him, we will never thirst or hunger again?

It was the unbeliever who hungered and thirsted, not the Christian.

If you really want to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, be filled with His Word, not the bogus and fragile testimonies of men. We guarantee that you will find the whole gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word more satisfying and fully assuring than what any of these men have to offer.

And please, take communion and hear the gospel. Your faith in Christ anchors you in His Word. And put on the whole armour of God “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” which make you stand steadfast in the faith. This ‘Power Hungry Heresy’ only robs you of your assurance in Christ and makes you crave the carnal desires of false teachers. To end, consider these inviting lyrics of a popular outreach song:

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven’s store
Come and drink and thirst no more
– Julie Miller, All My Tears


Email all comments and questions to c3churchwatch@hotmail.com



Categories: Catch the Fire Ministries, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Resources, Uncategorized

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