CONFUSION ABOUT “SPIRIT SLAYING”
April 8, 2002 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) –
The last large ecumenical conference I attended with press credentials was Celebration Jesus 2000 in St. Louis, Missouri. There I witnessed the same “spirit slaying” phenomenon that I have seen many other times at various charismatic forums.
It is also called “falling under the power,” “carpet time,” “Holy Spirit glue,” “soaking in the anointing,” and other things. This phenomenon was practiced in the evening meetings as well as in many of the morning and afternoon sessions, and hundreds of people experienced it. The “spirit slaying” is one of the chief “miracles” that the charismatic movement promotes.
At the end of the evening meeting on Friday night of the conference, for example, Assemblies of God evangelist Steve Hill (who led the famous charismatic revival in the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, the first few years) invited the people forward in a confused invitation which was a mixture of receiving Christ, renewing your relationship with Christ, dedicating yourself to Christ, doing business with God, etc. He mentioned the gospel and the blood of Christ, but he did not plainly preach and explain the gospel and he did not plainly contrast the true gospel with the false sacramental gospel of Rome. In such an ecumenical environment (there were thousands of Roman Catholics in attendance), the preacher must make the gospel exceedingly plain or his listeners will merely re-interpret his words in terms of Roman Catholicism or the teaching of some other false church.
Anyway, hundreds of people came forward on Friday night in St. Louis to have hands laid on them by the speakers, and many of them “fell under the power” and lay on the concrete floor of the convention center, some of them for a half hour and more. As Hills and John Kilpatrick (pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola) laid hands on people, they yelled “fire!” fire!” Some of those laying on the floor rolled around, some shook, some laughed almost hysterically, some wept, some smiled blissfully, some appeared to be unconscious.
The Saturday morning session led by John and Carol Arnott from Toronto, Canada, is another key illustration of the focus on “spirit slaying.” Arnott spoke for a few minutes then invited pastors to come forward if they “felt they would die if they did not soon receive a touch from God.” He told them to say to God, “Why not me and why not now; I take it in the name of Jesus.” About 40 or 50 went up front, and John Arnott and his wife laid hands on them. Most of them fell on the floor. One continued standing but he started shaking almost violently and remained like that for a long time, until Carol Arnott laid hands on him and he fell to the floor. After laying hands on the pastors and while most of them were still on the floor, Arnott continued delivering his message to the crowd in his quiet manner; but as he was speaking his wife roamed around laying hands on people and “ministering” to those who were lying on the floor. It was very confusing, to say the least. Some people were laughing hysterically. Some were rolling around. Others were weeping or moaning very loudly. Carol Arnott was talking and yelling. All the while, John was rambling on about how the Holy Spirit was preparing to send the greatest revival in history. From time to time, he would pause in the midst of speaking and would shout, “FIRE! FIRE ON HER! FIRE ON HIM! FIRE LORD!” then he would continue speaking to the crowd as if nothing had happened.
Arnott made light of those who criticize the spirit slaying experience and who warn about the danger of receiving false spirits. He said that just as a father would not give a stone to a son who asks for bread, God would not give a false spirit to those who seek the Holy Spirit. This completely ignores repeated Scripture warnings such as 1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3,4. Arnott claims that the spirit slaying is “90% bad stuff going out and good stuff coming in”; 10% is prophetic, and about 1% is foreign that has to be dealt with by those in charge. He said that he used to believe that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman who would never force people to do things and would never treat people harshly, but he no longer believes that. He claimed that the reason God wants His people to submit themselves to being slain by the spirit is to surrender their pride and fear.
All of this is a great confusion and error. There is absolutely nothing like the charismatic “spirit slaying” in the New Testament Scriptures.
New Testament examples of people falling down
1. Believers sometimes fell down before Christ to worship Him (Mt. 2:11; 18:26; Lk. 17:16; Jn. 11:32; 1 Cor. 14:25). The term “fall down” is sometimes used in Scripture to describe worship (Ps. 72:11; Is. 44:19; 46:6; Dan. 3:5; Mt. 4:9; Rev. 4:10; 5:8,14; 19:4).
2. The disciples fell down on their faces and were afraid on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:6).
3. The men who took Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went backward and fell down when he spoke the words, “I am he” (Jn. 18:6).
4. Saul fell to the ground when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4).
5. Ananias fell down when he was stricken of God for his sin (Acts 5:5).
6. John fell at Christ’s feet “as dead” in Rev. 1:17.
How are these examples different from that which is experienced in the Charismatic movement?
The instances of falling down in the New Testament have no similarity whatsoever with the “spirit slaying” phenomenon that is part and parcel with the Charismatic movement. In the New Testament, there was no laying on of hands preceding the falling down. In fact, there was no human instrumentality whatsoever in any of the instances of falling in the Bible. There was no spastic jerking. There was no “Holy Spirit glue” which kept someone from rising. There was no laughter connected with the falling. There was no repetition of the falling. There was no teaching on falling. There were no people queuing up in lines waiting to fall. There were no repetitive choruses preparing people for mystical experiences. There was no one yelling “Fire!” and “More, Lord!” and such things.
Friends, I refuse to participate in or support any alleged “revival” that includes “Spirit slaying” or uncontrollable laughter or spiritual drunkenness or other manifestations that are so patently contrary to what we see in the New Testament Scriptures. Charismatic leaders say, “Don’t worry about the manifestations.” That is unscriptural and extremely dangerous advice. We are instructed to prove ALL things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Charismatic leaders say, “Just open up and don’t be so uptight; lighten up and let God do what He pleases.” That is unscriptural. We want God to be in absolute control of our lives and churches, but it is folly and rebellion to ignore the fact that God’s Word warns repeatedly of false spirits and false teachers. The Apostle Peter did not counsel us to open up and lighten up. Instead, he warned: “BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). To be vigilant is to be on alert, on guard, on the outlook for enemies and deception. This is the very opposite of the “spirit slaying” experience whereby the Christian allegedly “goes out under the power.” To be sober and vigilant means I will not submit myself to an experience whereby by consciousness and vigilance are violated.
Beware of the Charismatic ecumenical movement that is sweeping across the world.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4).