Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward ( Isaiah 29:9-14)
(From a transcript of a Rodney Howard Browne Meeting)
[Rodney Howard Browne] “Welcome to Joel’s Place— have another drink. You can have a double of what he’s having.”[Rodney Howard Browne] “Does your mother know you’re here? Where are you from, sir?” [Rodney Howard Browne] “I command you to laugh.”[Obviously intoxicated young man] “I came here tonight and I was going to get high on both spirits—I’m about half drunk right now—but everybody’s laughing and falling on the floor and I want some of that.”[Rodney Howard Browne] “You do? You have to be willing to come to God.”[Young Man] “If you give me some of that, I want to come back.” [Crowd applauds wildly as young man “accepts Jesus” and is slain “in the Spirit.”]
The NAR as we know it today is the confluence of several ‘streams’ of aberrant Christianity; From the false teaching, prophecies and signs of William Branham, to the anticipation for the great end times revival, mix in a heavy dose of Kenneth Hagin’s (New thought inspired) Word Faith doctrine, and onto the broad spread of Hagin’s teaching through the ministry of Kenneth Copeland and others.
There are other factors we will look into, such as the contribution of John Wimber, the Church growth movement, and C Peter Wagner. Also the Prophetic movement and the Pseudo ‘Spiritual warfare’ movement. Layer by layer, this edifice of error has arisen and come to dominate quite a large bit of Evangelicalism.
As we said in the last article, the anticipation for some kind of new,”endtimes” world shaking revival, began to seem to manifest in the late 1980s and through the 90s, most notably in the Toronto Blessing, and eventually into the Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola,Florida.
People from around the globe, flowed to those locations to ‘receive’ the new anointing, or to be touched by the Presence of God, and even to experience the various mystical experiences, ranging from slain in the Spirit , to Holy laughter and flat out Spiritual Drunkenness.
If there is anyone who we could regard as a perverse kind of ‘John the Baptist’ to these false revivals, it would be The South African Evangelist, Rodney Howard Browne. He more than anyone I know, was the forerunner and Herald of these mystical movements in the Church.
Here is an excerpt from my 1995 book, “Weighed and Found Wanting; Putting the Toronto blessing in context”, in which I discuss Howard Browne,
Who Is Rodney Howard Browne?
He was born into a Pentecostal home, an atmosphere that was bathed in prayer. By his own testimony, he was saved at the age of five and baptized in the Holy Spirit at age eight. Both at home and in the Pentecostal church he attended, he testifies of “continually [seeing] supernatural manifestations.”
His own “baptism of fire” occurred in 1979, while he was still a teenager. Here is how he tells it.
I knew that there was more, much more…In July of 1979, I cried out to God in sheer desperation. I wanted Him to manifest Himself to me and in me. I was hungry…As I prayed that day, I told the Lord, “Either you come down here and touch me, or I am going to come up there and touch you.”I was desperate. I must have called out to God for about 20 minutes that day. Suddenly, the fire of God fell on me. It started on my head and went right down to my feet. His power burned in my body and stayed like that for three whole days…I was really praying, “Lord, I am too young to die.” In the fourth day, I am not praying, “O Lord send your glory,” I am praying, “Please ift it off me so that I can bear it.” I was plugged into heaven’s electric lightsupply…my desire has been to go and plug other people in. My whole bodywas on fire…Out of my belly began to flow a river of living water. I began to laugh uncontrollably and then I began to weep and then speak with tongues.
I was so intoxicated on the wine of the Holy Ghost that I was beside myself…Because of that encounter with the Lord, my life was radically changed from that day on…We were preaching in a Methodist church. I was back in the vestibule—which is a holy name for a plain old ofﬁce—preparing for service. One of the young ladies came into the ofﬁce and asked me to pray for her because she was in terrible pain…I got my hand halfway to her head, almost like a gunslinger would draw a gun outof a holster, and point it at his opponent. Suddenly, unexpectedly,it felt like my finger tips came off. I felt a full volume of anointingflow out of my hand. The only way I can explain it is to liken it to a fireman holding a fire hose with a full volume of water flowing out of it. The anointing went right into her. It looked like someone had hit her in the head with an invisible baseball bat and she fell to the
Notice the sensuality of the testimony, though. The fire of God courses through his body, it shoots out of his fingers, like a gun, she gets hit by an invisible bat! The concept behind the word sensual is not always referring to “sexual.” Sensual refers to the things pertaining to the five physical senses. Rodney Howard Browne has a very sensual ministry. The promise is held out that you are going to be touched by God, you’re going to feel God, you’ll even get drunk on the new wine! You’ll laugh, stagger, get stuck to the floor, and generally have an all out good time! It’s “fun” going to these meetings!
Back to Who is Rodney Howard Browne?
In 1987, Rodney Howard Browne left his native South Africa to come to the United States, on a “word from God.” By that time, he had already pioneered a church, pastored for a time and been on the pastoral staff of Ray McCauley’s Rhema Bible Church in Johannesburg. Upon arriving in America, he commenced an itinerant ministry.
It was at a series of meetings in Albany, New York in 1989 that the unusual manifestations had begun to take place. It began to occur at a time when both he and his wife were hungry for God to move. As he was preaching at a morning meeting, he said a cloud filled the room, visible to others, but not to him. He could feel it, though. People began falling out of their seats as he preached.
Rodney Howard Browne became an internationally prominent revivalist after a Spring, 1993 meeting at an Assembly of God church in Lakeland, Florida, the Carpenter’s Home Church. He was scheduled for one week, but the meeting lasted four! People who heard about it flew in from as far away as Africa, Great Britain and Argentina. What made the difference in this revival meeting? According to Charisma Magazine,
The difference was the laughter. No matter what Howard Browne did or said, hundreds who attended the daily sessions always ended up on the sanctuary floor in helpless laughter. When the services were broadcast on radio, more curious seekers showed up to join the fun… (Weighed and Found Wanting, Bill Randles)
The odd manifestations started out as outbreaks of irrational laughter. I have seen clips of the Revival preachers starting to read scripture and crowds of people bursting out into uproarious laughter. Even if the scripture were about Hell, Judgment, Sin or repentance! So many people who had been conditioned to not judge, and to never be critical , as well as to expect an earth shaking Revival such as was never seen before, just assumed the laughter was part of it.
The Maniacal laughter soon evolved into “Spiritual Drunkeness” in which people literally came under an intoxicating influence in Browne’s services, which he attributed to the Holy Ghost. Brown began calling himself “God’s Bartender” and referring to his services as “Joel’s Place”, Because of the association with the promise of New Wine in the book of Joel.
There were a good many other strange and debasing manifestations occurring in these services, and at Toronto and then Pensacola, besides “spiritual drunkenness”, such as trances, violent fits of shaking, even Christians acting literally like animals, growling, walking on all fours and barking. But they were assured that this was the Holy Spirit and told not to analyze in their heads, but just to receive.
The “Holy Laughter” meetings of Howard Browne led directly to the Spiritual drunkeness of Toronto, Pensacola and Lakeland Florida so called Revivals. Christian people yielded to these unholy Spirits and there has been virtually no talk of Repenting of them in the church, for to this day Toronto, Pensacola and even Lakeland are considered Revivals.
Is Spiritual drunkeness Biblical? Is it of the Holy Spirit?
It was instructive to hear what Howard Browne and his wife Andronica made of those who didn’t want to participate in these revivals out of a sense of discernment or even perhaps propriety.
[Rodney Howard Browne] “Those who don’t believe this probably wouldn’t believe anything, they probably wouldn’t believe the Bible.” Andronica parrots a host of other voices when she proclaims, “Some people have more faith that the devil will show up than the Holy Spirit!” Rodney doesn’t even bat an eye when he accuses the church of taking the supernatural out of the Bible and making it into Readers Digest or an encyclopedia. Does the church need this? [Rodney Howard Browne] “The church needs laughter, Lord have mercy! [They’re] the driest bunch on the planet.” Also, “The religious dead heads have left and some dead preachers, but the unsaved and backsliders are here.”
The truth is Spiritual drunkenness is real and biblical, but as my opening scripture says, it isn’t a blessing, nor is it a revival (in the sense Christians long for), rather it is a Judgment from Almighty God on a faithless and disloyal people. They think they are drawing near to God by their surrender to this spirit which degrades them, intoxicating and debasing them, but their hearts are actually far from God.
The Revivals of the 1990s seem to be long past, but what about their influence? Is the Church different now than it was then? Did they only condition us for other errors to come? Have those who dove into “the river” repented of listening and obeying false prophets and a false Spirit?
more to come