Sarah Palin Fulfils Prophecy

Today I have had drawn to my attention an astonishing prophecy given by Sharon Stone in Glasgow. Here is the text, as recorded and annotated by the Elijah List, with their varied emphasis:

The following is a prophecy given by Dr. Sharon Stone in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2008. The notations in RED are fulfillment of the word, but are not part of the word given.

September is a Turning Point

“September is a turning point and a sign of the times. It is all about those who have made Godly alignments in this season being blessed with revelation and information in the midst of world crisis.

“I see more banks will suffer: a USA world bank’s shares are in trouble (Lehman Brothers files bankruptcy, September 15, 2008). I see government in the USA bailing out mortgage giants (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – Federal takeover, September 7, 2008) and the government in England cutting house purchase taxes for the sagging housing crisis (Stamp Duty Tax change announced, September 2, 2008) to no avail.

“I see a European airline failing with no notice (XL files bankruptcy, September 12, 2008). I see the eyes of the world looking to see, ‘Who is this coming out of Alaska?’ (Sarah Palin announced as McCain’s running mate, August 29, 2008). And I see smoke coming from the Chunnel (Fire in the Chunnel, September 11, 2008).

“As I see these things, I hear the encouragement of God to His Isaacs in the earth who sow in the times of famine and reap 100 fold in the year. I’m not a prosperity preacher, I’m a prophet. And God is saying that September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system. There are always the few that are greatly blessed when the majority are shaken, threatened and fearful.”

God says, Have you positioned yourself for THE NEW? Your storehouse is not an earthly bank. Hold on and I will bail you out of your mortgage issues. Am I not better to you than any government? I will not leave you stranded on foreign soil, and I will carry you above the circumstances better than any plane or jet. And your hope is not an Alaskan saviour, but Me.” I know that sounds strange, it does to me also.

England, the smoke I saw coming out of the Chunnel is a warning for your intercessors to arise and cut off the enemy’s plan to sabotage and siege England’s favour in trade. Let him who has ears hear….

“God, I release an Isaac anointing upon us now!”

The Isaac reference, by the way, is to Genesis 26:1,12.

I note here six quite specific prophecies which were fulfilled in September, including that the eyes of the world would look to Sarah Palin (announced as a candidate in August, but infamous only in September). One or two of these might have been guessed at, but not all six. Can anyone possibly claim that there is no Christian prophecy today?

As for Sarah Palin fulfilling the prophecy, it is perhaps significant that her emergence from Alaska is listed with five disasters! Anyway, as the prophecy continues, our hope is not to be in an Alaskan saviour, nor for that matter in a Hawaiian one, but in God.

But prophecies like this are not given for entertainment, nor primarily to convince unbelievers that God speaks to today, but as warnings and encouragements for his people (1 Corinthians 14:3). The warning here is to the intercessors of England to pray. A day of prayer for the world’s economies has been announced for 29th October, with events being planned in London (I can’t find online information) as well as New York. My church is considering how to get involved.

The End of the World Tomorrow?

Usually mainstream scientists and journalists treat predictions that the world will end on any particular day with utter contempt, as coming from religious nutcases. And indeed they are generally right to do so, for the Bible clearly states that Jesus will come again on a day when he is not expected (Matthew 24:44). Indeed I remember the day in 1975 when Jehovah’s Witnesses were predicting the end of the world (actually I can’t find any mentions now of a specific day, only a year, but there were certainly days being predicted at the time), and reasoning as a young Christian, but not very seriously, that Jesus could not possibly come on that day as there were people expecting him, and so it was OK for me to get drunk that night!

So it comes as quite a shock to find posted on the BBC blog a post entitled The end of the world is not nigh, in which science correspondent Tom Feilden reports that “Some scientists have voiced fears” that something which will happen tomorrow, Wednesday 10th September, “could trigger a black hole that would swallow the planet (and the rest of the solar system for good measure) in a matter of minutes.” Tom has to reassure his readers with:

The world is not going to end … on Wednesday. That’s the verdict of an exhaustive safety assessment.

So what is happening tomorrow which has worried not just religious extremists but some serious scientists, and prompted even the BBC to issue this kind of reassurance?

It is an event which is being covered by BBC radio as The Big Bang. They seem to have taken that title from the worst fears of some scientists, that what happens tomorrow will be something like a replay of the original Big Bang. We can hope that whoever thought up this title doesn’t have the gift of prophecy!

The event is of course the one I already reported in advance in June, the official switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator which has been built at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. The huge cost of this has been justified because, it is hoped, it will be able to smash sub-atomic particles into one another with so much energy that completely new particles are formed, providing profound insights into the fundamental nature of the universe. It seems perverse, even a big boys’ toys method as a friend of mine suggested, to investigate such things by smashing things up as hard as we can, but this does seem to be the only experimental approach.

The potential problems have been summarised in this report from CERN, with links to more comprehensive discussions. There seem to be two possible dangers. One is that the new types of matter or energy produced (“strangelets”, “vacuum bubbles” or “magnetic monopoles”) just might react with ordinary matter in some kind of chain reaction, which could immediately turn the whole world into something far more explosive than an H-bomb. The other is that the LHC may be able to produce microscopic black holes which could grow and swallow up the earth.

The basic safety argument here is that the earth has always been bombarded with cosmic ray particles, some of which are far more energetic than anything the LHC can produce, and has survived for billions of years. The CERN scientists note that

Over the past billions of years, Nature has already generated on Earth as many collisions as about a million LHC experiments – and the planet still exists

Well, maybe we have just been lucky so far, or protected by God. Would we know if other planets had disappeared into black holes? Probably not if they were outside our Solar System. So is it responsible for us to launch thousands if not millions of LHC experiments to increase the risk? Anyway, cosmic ray collisions are not directly comparable because any dangerous particles resulting from such collisions of fast moving particles with stationary matter would be shot out of our earth at very nearly the speed of light, so perhaps before they could be dangerous, whereas ones produced by the LHC from head on collisions may be much less energetic and so remain within the earth for long enough to be dangerous.

As I reported in June, if by any chance the earth is swallowed up in this way tomorrow, or later, the way it happens will be well in line with biblical prophecy, especially in 2 Peter.

Will the world end tomorrow? I don’t think so. But, following the apostle Peter’s advice, I won’t take the opportunity to get drunk!

Does God know the future? Does prayer make a difference?

California pastor TC Robinson burst on to the blogging scene a few months ago with his blog New Leaven. (I assume he is male, and not a woman using initials rather than a first name to disguise her gender, because he admits to a wife and two kids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much these days in California!) This is one of the most prolific blogs I read with an average of more than four posts a day. It is also one of the most consistently interesting and thought-provoking, as TC consistently finds subjects which are both serious and entertaining and very often lead to long comment thread discussions. I disagree with TC on a number of issues, but it is always good to discuss them with him and others on his blog.

When I call him TC I can’t help remembering the Top Cat cartoons of my childhood, in which the hero was known as TC. But I don’t recognise Pastor Robinson as the leader of the bloggers’ gang!

Among TC’s posts recently have been several on Open Theism, which is basically the idea that God does not predetermine the future or even know it in advance. So far he has written ten posts in this category. It was partly in response to one of these posts that I wrote my post God the Blogger, to which TC responded.

Meanwhile Jeremy Pierce has reactivated his extremely long running Theories of Knowledge and Reality series, which touches on the same kinds of question. He has also posted an interesting essay on Prophecy in Harry Potter (see also the comments on this one); now I am not much interested in Harry Potter, but in this post issues also come up of whether even God can prophesy reliably about the future.

Open Theism has been rejected by many evangelical Christians, such as Wayne Grudem, because of its apparent implication that not even God knows the future. If not, they argue, how can God fulfil his purposes, and inspire accurate prophecies about what will happen? Surely, these people argue, the future is predetermined by God. This is in effect the position of Calvinists, who believe that God has predetermined who will be saved, if not necessarily every detail of the future. Yet it is difficult to see how this kind of determinism allows for any kind of human free will. But the Bible seems to affirm that humans do have free will, as for example in Psalm 32:9, and as such are responsible for their actions.

A related question is whether Christian prayer can make a real difference to the future. Some may hold that the real function of prayer is to bring us closer to God – and that people should not ask for anything specific, even for God to provide for others’ genuine needs. However, Jesus, especially in Matthew 7:7-11, seems to present prayer as a real process of making specific requests and seeing them fulfilled. But how can this be if God has already fixed the future before we pray?

Now there are very many complex arguments here, into which Jeremy goes in depth, and this is not the place to repeat them. One possible answer is provided by “compatibilism”, which is basically the idea that there are two separate but compatible descriptions of the world, one from our viewpoint in which human decisions are free, and another divine one according to which God has predetermined everything. I can also recommend here a rather heavy book which I have only skimmed but would like to read in more detail: Providence and Prayer by Terrance Tiessen.

I will simply state here where I think I stand at the moment. I’m not sure it is where I will always stand – at least that part of the future is open, or in God’s hands. But this is my present position:

I believe that God is sovereign over everything and quite capable of determining everything that will ever happen within the universe he created. He is eternal and outside this universe, and not subject to anything within it.

I believe that God has freely chosen to allow a real openness about the future of the universe. This is because he has delegated many of the decisions about its future to intelligent created beings, both spiritual ones, i.e. angels, and humans. This delegation of authority was intended to be for his own glory. But for reasons which I do not presume to understand in detail some of these created beings chose to reject God’s good purposes and use their delegated rights to make decisions against God. God could have simply taken away their right to decide, but for reasons hinted at in Psalm 32:9 he chose not to.

Nevertheless God is not bound by the universe or by time and therefore he can see into the future. He knows what will happen. He generally chooses not to intervene to overturn the consequences of human bad decisions, that is, human sin. However, he knows his own long term purposes for his creation as a whole and for particular individuals and groups in it. So he works in generally subtle ways within his creation to bring about his purposes. This may include calling particular people to particular works; but if they refuse to take up their calling, or mess it up, God finds other ways to fulfil his purposes.

Among the privileges which God has granted to those people who are committed to living according to his will is that he has promised to answer their prayers, to give to them whatever they ask for (Matthew 7:7-8, John 14:14). He will indeed do this, in ways which do not conflict with the free will of others, although not always in quite the way his people expect. But if what they ask goes against his general purposes, he will not be pleased with the person asking and may choose to work through other people in future. However, those whose prayers are closely aligned with God’s will, because they know that will and truly want to see it done, will find that God is more than pleased to answer not just the basics of their prayers but to give them abundantly more than they ask. As they live and pray according to God’s purposes they will be able to do great things with him and for his glory.

This post has already turned into quite a long essay. So I will leave it there. I await comments!

The earth is not at risk …

The earth is not at risk from a new particle accelerator at CERN near Geneva, according to scientists as reported by the BBC. There had been suggestions, even by theoretical physicists, that the Large Hadron Collider could generate new “strangelet” particles which might destroy ordinary matter, or miniature black holes which could grow and swallow up the earth. But the scientists have now reported that there is “no conceivable danger”. This is not because the accelerator cannot generate black holes – it can. But it is because the earth throughout its history has been bombarded, if only rather occasionally, by cosmic ray particles which are just as energetic as those produced by the collider, but even over billions of years these have failed to produce killer particles or black holes of mass destruction.

So are we safe? The scientists seem to think so. But they also seem to accept that there is a small but not completely vanishing chance of a collision between particles, whether cosmic ray particles or ones generated in an accelerator, having effects which spread out to destroy or damage the whole earth. The assurance that they can offer is simply that it hasn’t happened yet, for billions of years, and so isn’t likely to happen any time soon. And the new collider increases the danger by apparently producing as many high energy collisions in one experiment as occur naturally on the earth in thousands of years.

What is God’s perspective on this? This is what the apostle Peter had to say:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” …10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. [footnote: Some manuscripts be burned up]

11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. [footnote: Or as you wait eagerly for the day of God to come] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

2 Peter 3:3-4,10-14 (TNIV)

The scoffers claim that the earth is safe, it will continue as it is for ever, or at least for billions of years more, and God will never bring judgment or destruction. However, now even scientists are saying that there is a possibility, however remote, of the earth suddenly being destroyed. One possible scenario,

the mass conversion of nuclei in ordinary atoms into more strange matter – transforming the Earth into a hot, dead lump

sounds remarkably like what Peter prophesied nearly 2000 years ago. I don’t claim that this is how the prophecy will be fulfilled, but even scientists are not ruling out the possibility.

As Peter writes, the consequence of this for us Christians is simple: “You ought to live holy and godly lives … make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

Guards down, armour on

I just found this quote given by Eclexia, from a book called The Gift of Fear:

The great enemy of perception, and thus of accurate predictions, is judgment. People often learn just enough about something to judge it as belonging in this or that category. They observe bizarre conduct and say, “This guy is just crazy.” Judgments are the automatic pigeonholing of a person or situation simply because some characteristic is familiar to the observer (so whatever that characteristic meant before it must mean again now). Familiarity is comfortable, but such judgments drop the curtain, effectively preventing the observer from seeing the rest of the play.

Eclexia was not thinking of Todd Bentley when she quoted this. I don’t think the original writer was thinking of him either. But this quote nicely summarises the attitude of so many people to him and to the Lakeland, Florida outpouring which he is leading. They claim to discern things about his ministry, but in fact the fail to perceive what it is all about because they make snap judgments about Todd.

Mark Cahill, an American evangelist whose qualifications, according to his “About Mark” web page, are “a business degree from Auburn University, where he was an honorable mention Academic All-American in basketball” (!) has written a June 2008 Newsletter entitled Guards Up. This has been quoted more or less in full by bloggers Andy Kinman and Ricky Earle, also in an apparent case of plagiarism passed off by blogger Brian Cranford as his own work. (Brian’s appears to be a genuine blog linked to a genuine Christian ministry, but there has been no reply to my comment of nearly 24 hours ago asking for clarification of the source of this post.) In his newsletter Mark links to my post about Todd Bentley and an angel called Emma, perhaps because I still have posted what Todd originally wrote about this but has now, I am told, had removed from his website. But this post from nearly a month ago is old news, and should be re-read in the light of what Todd has just recently written on this subject, which I posted on before.

Now “Guards Up!” may be good advice in business or basketball, but is it in the Christian life? First let’s look at some of Mark’s claims about Todd.

First, Mark accuses Todd of being a false prophet on the basis of a video, which is clearly some years old because Todd has quite a lot of hair. But I don’t see any false prophecy in this video. I see “words of knowledge”, which are not the same as prophecy, some of which are not immediately confirmed but that does not imply that they are false. But then I don’t think anyone ministering in “words of knowledge” like this claims 100% accuracy.

As for the video of Todd laughing, the style may be strange but that doesn’t make it evil. Is there really a good reason why God cannot make people laugh, shake or fall down? Of course not, because all of these are in the Bible: laughing in a positive sense in Job 8:21 (OK, this is Bildad speaking so should be taken with care), Psalm 126:2 and Luke 6:21, shaking in Job 4:14 (this time Eliphaz is speaking so again should be taken with care) and Matthew 28:4, falling to the ground also in Matthew 28:4 and in Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 1:17 etc.

There is in fact nothing new in what Mark writes, just a rehash of the same old criticisms I have seen before. The disturbing thing is that Mark claims to know all sorts of things about occult practices but doesn’t know enough about the Bible and Christian practice to realise that there are no new manifestations happening in Lakeland. What is new is the style, the unprecedented power, and the worldwide attention.

Mark also seems to know rather well the Bible verses about false prophets and the need to discern them. But in fact he doesn’t apply these verses properly. The test of a false prophet in Deuteronomy 13 is whether the prophet leads people astray into idolatry. But there is no question that Todd is glorifying Jesus, not any other gods or idols, as he makes very clear in his recent article. So by this standard he is not a false prophet. Nor has he made any specific prophecies which have proved false, the test in Deuteronomy 18. But these Old Testament tests are only part of the picture. Why has Mark made no mention of the New Testament tests of false prophets and false Messiahs? Perhaps this is because in the NT discernment of spirits is a spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12:10. Mark makes no claim to this gift, but without it he has no right to make pronouncements on such a matter. Also, there is also an objective test in the NT, in 1 John 4:1-3, and by this it is quite clear that Todd is ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the antichrist.

Mark’s basic problem is that he relies on his own understanding in this matter. The guards which he tries to put up are deployed in his own strength. And such guards are powerless against an enemy who is more powerful than he is and quite able to deceive him apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit. People who walk into a spiritual battle without spiritual weapons and armour are likely to be defeated. Instead we all need to rely on the armour and weapons of attack which God provides for us, Ephesians 6:10-17. If we do this we can walk in safety into meetings like Todd’s, confident that we will not be deceived, and allow the Holy Spirit to show us what is his work.

Meanwhile Seth Barnes has offered some sensible criticism of the critics. I am not so happy to find myself listed as one of them, but at least this has brought significant traffic to this blog!

Also, Patsy of Rahab’s Place has gone on the offensive against the critics with her post Great Florida Outpouring – Lying Signs and Wonders, in which she refutes from the Bible the critics’ claims that the healing miracles at Lakeland are the work of the devil. She concludes:

There is a great deal of lying wonders going on regarding the Lakeland Outpouring. The lie is that satan has the power to heal and raise the dead. This lie has been fed to the church and the wonder is that she has accepted it in the light of scriptures.

Patsy has other posts about the “Great Florida Outpouring”, including a link to a TV interview with Todd in which he refers to documented healings, an endorsement from Bill Johnson, and a testimony of healing which is taken straight from Dr Gary Greig’s comment here at Gentle Wisdom. This is the same Dr Greig who has given his own biblical proofs, which I summarised, that what Todd is doing is valid.

So, let’s set aside the critics’ misrepresentations of the Bible, take down our human guards, put on the armour of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth about Todd.

Todd Bentley and an angel called Emma

In ongoing discussions about the “outpouring” in Lakeland, Florida a number of people have mentioned as a criticism of Todd Bentley that he talks about an angel called Emma. For the first time this evening I have seen some evidence of this. Ian Matthews lists this as his number one reason for being suspicious of Todd’s ministry, and he gives a link to an article which Todd wrote in 2003. Ian says that Emma

apparently ministers in his revival meetings.

But what does Todd really have to say about Emma? I quote in full the section from the article with the only mentions of Emma:

EMMA, ANGEL OF THE PROPHETIC

Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: “Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?” He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, “Bob, who is Emma?” He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, “Here’s Emma.” I’m not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.

She glided into the room, emitting brilliant light and colors. Emma carried these bags and began pulling gold out of them. Then, as she walked up and down the aisles of the church, she began putting gold dust on people. “God, what is happening?” I asked. The Lord answered: “She is releasing the gold, which is both the revelation and the financial breakthrough that I am bringing into this church. I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service-the same angel that appeared in Kansas city-as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church.” See, when angels come, they always come for a reason; we need to actually ask God what the purpose is. Within three weeks of that visitation, the church had given me the biggest offering I had ever received to that point in my ministry. Thousands of dollars! Thousands! Even though the entire community consisted of only three thousand people, weeks after I left the church the pastor testified that the church offerings had either doubled or tripled.

During this visitation the pastor’s wife (it was an AOG church) got totally whacked by the Holy Ghost- she began running around barking like a dog or squawking like a chicken as a powerful prophetic spirit came on her. Also, as this prophetic anointing came on her, she started getting phone numbers of complete strangers and calling them up on the telephone and prophesying over them. She would tell them that God gave her their telephone number and then would give them words of knowledge. Complete strangers. Then angels started showing up in the church.

I believe Emma released a financial and prophetic anointing in that place. That was the first angel that I have ever seen in the form of a woman. Some angels I’ve seen seemed like they were neither male nor female. However, Emma appeared as a woman who was like a Deborah, like a mother in Zion. When she came, she began to mentor, nurture and opened up a prophetic well. The people in the church began having trances and visions and the pastor began getting words of knowledge and moving in healing. That congregation also saw more financial breakthrough than they had ever seen before.

What can we make of this? First, Todd, as quite a young Christian, was told about Emma by the respected leader Bob Jones. Soon after this Todd saw a vision which he understood to be this same Emma. So if this is an error, it is Bob’s error, only taken on second hand by Todd. This is the same Bob Jones who last week prophesied over Trevor Baker in the YouTube clip which I linked to before.

Second, this angel is seen to distribute gold dust. But I note that this is a vision of an angel, and presumably the gold dust is also visionary, not literal. In the vision it is clearly symbolic of the generosity which came to this congregation leading them to make a large offering. So there is no call for the mockery I have seen that people should collect the gold dust to raise money for the poor. In fact it seems that Todd’s meetings bring in plenty of money for his work for the poor quite apart from the gold dust.

Third, it is an unwarranted generalisation to write that Emma “apparently ministers in his revival meetings” on the basis of an account of just one occasion when she turned up at a meeting. There is no indication that Todd ever saw her again. I have seen no suggestion that she has been reported as ministering at Lakeland.

So, what is the issue here which has made this such a stumbling block for Ian and others? Is it the idea that angels have names? But that is biblical: the angels Michael and Gabriel are named in Scripture. Is it the apparently modern form of this angel’s name? Well, Emma is a modern name I think, but it might well be an adaptation of the Hebrew word AMMA, which means “cubit”, or AMA “female servant”, both of which would be appropriate names for an angel – “cubit” being suitable for the measuring angel of Ezekiel 40-47 and Revelation 21. Or is the problem that this angel is apparently female? Well, I accept that there may be no explicitly female angels in the Bible, but arguments from silence like that are very dangerous. Or perhaps the problem is simply that Todd is seeing angels at all? But since the apostles, Philip, Cornelius, Peter and Paul did (Acts 5:19, 8:26, 10:3, 12:7, 27:23), why shouldn’t Todd?

Of course the underlying issue here may be that Todd is claiming in any way at all to hear from God and to be in touch with the spiritual realm. For Bible deists that is of course a problem, and maybe that is Ian’s real problem. I took the term “Bible deist” from Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God, in which, as I wrote then, Deere

explains how he moved from the position that God speaks only through the Bible to an expectation that God speaks to his people today, if only they will listen to him.

So, does Ian reject (in the words of his second objection to Todd) because of

The Gnostic overtones of special knowledge and revelation

any claim to hear God, or only Todd’s claim? If only Todd’s, what makes him special? If any such claim, then is Ian declaring himself a cessationist and Bible deist? If so, this seems to sit oddly with one of the core values of his church:

We are open to the renewing, empowering and transforming work of God the Holy Spirit.

Surely anyone who is truly open in this laudable way will be open to the possibility that God is really speaking to and through Todd Bentley.

As for Ian’s last objection,

The seeking after ‘blessings’ – it seems to distract from the ‘business’ of being the body of Christ to a needy world

– I have more sympathy here. There certainly are some blessing and revival junkies making a lot of this just for themselves. Todd can’t stop them turning up, but he doesn’t encourage them. What he does encourage is people visiting Lakeland and then taking his anointing back to their home churches. This is certainly happening in some places. This anointing is intended to equip Christians to be more effective as the body of Christ to a needy world. So let’s stop carping about it and seek the equipping for ministry which God is offering.

Two Anglican priests' thoughts on charismatic experience

My post on speaking in tongues seems to have stirred up quite some interest. In addition to several comments and the link from Darrell Pursiful which I mentioned in my first follow-up post, it has attracted links from two Anglican priests on the edge of the charismatic movement, Tim Chesterton and Sam Norton.

Tim, once of Essex but now of Canada, dispels any suggestion that for him charismatic experience was something he enjoyed as a teenager in the 1970s but has now grown out of. In his new post he writes about “words of knowledge”. I didn’t mention in my previous posts that these “words of knowledge” are a major part of the prayer ministry at my church (which, sadly, is not well described at its website). Every Sunday morning before the service a group of us pray together and also wait for God to reveal to us specific prayer needs, such as sicknesses which God wants to heal. These are read out in the service before the final time of worship in song and prayer ministry, to encourage people to come forward for prayer for healing etc.

I don’t personally have such words on a regular basis. But a couple of weeks ago I had a sort of vision of someone with a particular health problem sitting in a particular part of the church. I wasn’t at all sure that this was from God and not just my imagination, but I shared it with the group in a very tentative way. Despite my uncertainty this was read out, there was indeed someone with that problem in that part of the church, and they came out for healing prayer.

Now it took a long time for my church to get to the point where that was acceptable; other churches may need to move gradually in that direction.

Sam, still here in Essex, linked to a recent post of his which I had not read before, about his visit to the New Wine Leadership Conference. It is good to see how he is edging towards a greater acceptance of the charismatic movement. To me, as an evangelical Anglican, the kind of “worship” experience which he criticises is quite normal, but I can see why he as a high churchman found it difficult to accept. And if he can’t take Bill Johnson, I certainly wouldn’t recommend to him Todd Bentley!

But I wonder if there is really “an underlying disparagement of the intellect” and “a division between ‘head and heart'” at New Wine. What I have seen is the opposite, a rejection of the division between ‘head and heart’ which underlies the idolatry of the intellect and disparagement of experience so common in many church circles, together with messages intended to appeal holistically to the whole person, including head and heart. I quoted here before Smith Wigglesworth’s 1947 prophecy that

When the Word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest movement of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed, the world, has ever seen.

Surely it is this coming together of the Word and the Spirit which New Wine is aiming to achieve. And there are signs that it is beginning to happen.

I’m sure Sam will be happier as a “Charismatic Catholic” than he is in New Wine circles. And I hope on Pentecost Sunday, this Sunday, he will indeed have the courage to carry out his intention to preach about a “release of the spirit”, and that this release becomes not just words or doctrine but a real experience of many in his congregation.

Sam also links to an older autobiographical post of his own, Guarding the Holy Fire, which is long but fascinating. May there be in his parish of Mersea a real visitation of the Holy Spirit, not as an explosive fire which blows itself out (read the post to understand this allusion) but as a long-lasting holy fire which burns up all the rubbish and provides lasting heat and light. Todd Bentley is praying that the revival fire in Florida will light fires all over the world. May this happen even in Mersea, as well as here in Chelmsford. And while I don’t want to wish anything uncomfortable on Sam, he just may find that this revival doesn’t fit his expectations about a proper liturgical setting!

I was interested to see also in this post of Sam’s these words from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. …

Sam gives the whole quote. These words, as seen in a clip from the film Coach Carter (which in fact cuts the quote to leave out the parts about God), formed the basis of a recent sermon at my church’s youth service. It was certainly a powerful sermon. With the Holy Spirit working in us we are indeed “powerful beyond measure”. But for many of us our deepest fear is of allowing that power to work in us (to continue the Williamson quote)

to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. …
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It is the Holy Spirit who can liberate us from our own fear. May we have the courage to let him do so.

Adrian's comments from December 2006 – the Grudem interview

Many of you will remember the controversy generated by Adrian Warnock’s interview of Wayne Grudem. The hundreds of comments posted there are in danger of being lost because of Adrian’s change of comment policy. Here I am rescuing them, and other comments from December 2006, for posterity. Unlike my previous set of comments from Adrian’s blog, I am doing these in chronological order. Again I intend to include the comments on every post which has any comments – in fact that is all of his posts in that  period when he was only starting to moderate comments. But this of course excludes any posts which Adrian has already deleted, and from what I remember there were quite a few of them in that month of controversy.

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qaya thoughts

I have just started a second blog, qaya thoughts (rhymes with “higher thoughts”), which is intended as an online journal, of thoughts arising mostly from my times of prayer and Bible reading. I will not be taking as much care there as I try to here at Gentle Wisdom to present these thoughts carefully, logically and consistently.

Many of my qaya thoughts will be notes from my Bible reading. I have started this blog to coincide with starting to read through the Old Testament prophetic books, beginning with Isaiah. Please note that what I am writing there is not intended to be proper exegesis of the original meaning of the passage; rather it is how I believe the Holy Spirit is wanting to apply the passage to myself and to the church and the world today. In seeing this modern application of Isaiah as primarily to the church I am by no means ruling out its applicability to Israel both in Isaiah’s day and today, nor to the first or second coming of Jesus.

These thoughts, especially those which are more like contemporary prophecy, have mostly not been tested by others. And so I can give no assurance to readers that they are genuine messages from God, and not from other places such as my own imagination. But I offer them in the hope that at least some of them will be helpful.

My longer term intention is to host qaya thoughts on the same server as this blog, Gentle Wisdom. But there are some technical issues to be sorted out first. So I am temporarily hosting it at wordpress.com. The URL will probably change in due course (see also the UPDATE below).

Note that I also blog from time to time at Better Bibles Blog and at TNIV Truth.

UPDATE 5th October: updated with new URL for qaya thoughts, see this announcement.

Speaker of Truth becomes Gentle Wisdom

I have decided to mark the new academic year (an important time for many of my readers although not for myself) with a new title for this blog: Gentle Wisdom. For the moment I am leaving everything else unchanged, although maybe I ought to look for a gentler picture than the mountain.

I don’t intend this to herald any major changes to this blog. But I intend to steer away from controversies like the atonement one and focus more on what is positive and beneficial, perhaps moving in a more devotional direction.

I am not changing the blog’s URL, so existing links will still work. However, if you have blogrolled me, please change the blog name in your link.

Why did I make this change? Continue reading