I am posting an excerpt of an amazing testimony from the webmaster and apologist at www.ApologeticsIndex.com.
To read the full testimony please click here: www.apologeticsindex.org/chang1.html
I will start by quoting the verse he powerfully concludes his testimony with:
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:16 NIV
“How I Changed My Mind On The Toronto Blessing”
By Anton Hein
In my testimony, I shared how I, while still living in California, used to very critical of the Toronto Blessing – critical in a very unbalanced manner.
Prior to the start of the Toronto Blessing Movement I had for many years been involved in the leadership of a Vineyard Christian Fellowship. I preached, taught, counseled, led a kinship group, and was part of ministry teams that were sent out to various Vineyard conferences. One such conference was held in Kansas City, in 1985. After the conference, small teams spent a week ministering at various churches in the area. The team I was part of stayed at what was then the Kansas City Fellowship.
Though the people were wonderful, our team members soon realized something wasn’t quite right. We couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but as it turned out, their “prophets” had been speaking to the church about an “army of young people” – “a chosen generation” – that was to come… We were seen and welcomed as being part of that army. At the time, few of us had ever heard of the Latter Rain Movement, but we did find many of the things we heard peculiar, to say the least.
Shortly after our stay at the Kansas City Fellowship, KCF joined the Vineyard movement. To many, this seemed to be a natural step in the road the Vineyard had taken. When I first joined the Vineyard, the church was known for its emphasis on the teaching of the Word, worship, and fellowship (kinship groups). Then we started learning about the spiritual gifts…
Now, I believe that the gifts are still in operation today, and that the Holy Spirit can give them to any Christian, at any time, for any purpose. However, the gifts are not to become more important than the Giver. That, though, is exactly what happened in the Vineyard. In our particular Vineyard (as in others), we saw that many people pursued the gifts so vigorously that the study of the Word became less important.
At about the same time, another teaching also was given much attention within the Vineyard: the practice of “Inner Healing.” This teaching holds that current problems in a person’s life can usually be traced back to a hurtful experience in the past. Though this teaching was not unique to the Vineyard, it got an added dimension in that movement because many “Vineyardites” – learning to practice the spiritual gifts – started to diagnose each other with “words of knowledge”.
Several of us pointed out the problem with this approach: when people who are not well grounded in the Word are practicing spiritual gifts, they have no sound way of testing spirits, prophecies, and words of knowledge. Thus they operate primarily by feelings and impressions, which are then either confirmed or denied by the person being ministered to. Though on the surface this may seem innocuous, it is not – for this means that feelings and experiences have become more important than Scripture. And that fact lies at the root of the problems and issues within many of the current renewal and revival movements.
The Author Goes On To Lay Out Some Very Valid Issues For Consideration:
The issues include:
- False teaching. Including acceptance and teaching of Latter Rain heresies, such as the re-establishment of prophets and apostles who (according to many) will have authority to speak words on a par with Scripture, and believing that Christians need to subdue the world before Christ can return.
- “Demonizing” critics. Teaching that those who criticize simply have a “religious spirit,” are “Pharisees,” are “outside the faith,” and “in danger of being killed by God.”
- Experience Over Scripture. Acceptance of any and all manifestations – either because “not everything is described in Scripture” or because Scripture is twisted to try and justify certain manifestations – is one of the things that has lead to a continuing devaluation of Scripture.
- Wrong Emphasis on spiritual warfare. Including being overly focused on angels and demons. Also the belief that those “in the river” will go to war with other Christians.
- Lack Of Ministry. When doing “carpet-time” is more important than doing the Lord’s work (see Luke 4:18-19) , you’re not having renewal or revival.
- False ministry. Including the growing practice of having demons drive out demons.
- Spiritual pride. Dividing the sheep into those “in the river” vs. the “hard to receive” and the “Pharisees.”
- Occult and pagan influences. An increasing acceptance of any and all manifestations – no matter how bizarre, occultic or pagan.
- False prophecy. Ranging from immature (and unchallenged) interpretation of dreams, weather patterns, and words, to full-blown “Thus Says The Lord” words furthering someone’s agenda rather originating with God.
Clearly, these teachings and practices are not found in every church that is in renewal or revival. That is one of the main reasons why I keep talking about “movements” (plural) rather than lump all together as one movement. There are plenty of churches where genuine renewal and revival is taking place…. [snip]
These issues, though, show the need for balance and discernment, the need to test everything, and the need to focus on Jesus.
As Paul says, do not quench the Spirit. Don’t despise prophetic words. But by all means, do test everything. Hold on to the good, and stay away from the bad. (1 Thess. 5:19-22) Doing this promotes the kind of renewal the Bible talks about. Like Timothy:
AGAIN PLEASE VISIT HIS WEBSITE AT: www.ApologeticsIndex.org