Index to All Four Sections
YOU ARE HERE PART I ... Introduction, History,
PART II ... Is There A Biblical Basis For Being 'Slain In The Spirit'? Did Sinners Fall Backwards? Examining the Proof Texts... Voluntarily Falling. Examining the Proof Texts... Involuntarily Falling. The "Ministry" of the Catchers
PART III ... Is There A Biblical Basis For Resting In The Spirit, Shaking In The Spirit, Being Drunk In The Spirit, or for Holy Laughter? Summary and Conclusion. The Warnings of Yesteryear. The Million Dollar Question
PART IV... Comparing The Supposedly 'Christian' Phenomenon of Slain In The Spirit with The Ancient Hindu Tradition of Kundalini , and The Practice of Transmitting the Power Through Shaktipat or 'Divine' Touch
ON THIS PAGE
Note: Most of the arguments in favor of the belief that 'Slain in the Spirit' and phenomena have Biblical support are from Bill Jackson's 1994 essay What In The World Is Happening To Us? Selected Stories & Teachings From The History Of Revival. Bill Jackson, one time Pastor at Inland Vineyard Church, is currently President of Radical Middle Ministries in Corona, California, and author of The Quest for the Radical Middle, A History of the Vineyard (Vineyard International Publishing). In the article he presents arguments in favor of the "Biblical and historical viability of exotic phenomena such as laughter and falling", which he believes "have been documented both in Scripture and in historical texts".
A way too common scenario in many Charismatic and Pentecostal church services, is when people come forward to the front of the church (or onto stage in the event of a road show) to receive prayer. They are then touched (usually on the forehead) by the pastor or another church minister which causes them to fall to the ground. This is called being 'Slain in the Spirit', and is seen by the participants as a clear sign of the presence of the Lord. Note that, while it is true that a person can be "slain" without being touched, this is the exception, rather than the rule. Benny Hinn, for example, will wave his hands in the direction of a group of people, many of whom will promptly fall over.
The physical falling is called "Slain in the Spirit" also known as "falling under the Spirit's power", "falling before the Lord", "slain under the power", "carpet time", "drunk in the Spirit", or "resting in the Spirit" etc. and is attributed to a human being's physical response to the power, or "anointing" of the Holy Spirit, under which an ordinary person is unable to keep standing. Many Charismatics believe this phenomenon brings both physical and emotional healing and/or an anointing by the Spirit.
In most cases, the person's fall is broken by "catchers" who are positioned behind them to prevent injury and who also, in many cases, provide a sheet to cover the lower half of the person on the floor, since the "slain" person may remain on the floor for a long period of time. This is frequently necessary in the case of women wearing skirts. However the covering is only effective in the case of a person who is "slain" and then lies quietly. All too often they will writhe or convulse on the floor for long periods of time, and may require the assistance of others to avoid injuring themselves during what some perceive as "ecstatic convulsions". While the function of ushers in large churches is usually confined to greeting and seating parishioners, their role in many charismatic churches also includes being "catchers" after the service is underway.
Some people get back on their feet very quickly, while others lie on the ground for a long time. During this 'carpet time' some jerk, twitch and shake, roll around on the floor, weep and cry out, or even laugh uncontrollably. Others, who lie relatively quietly, later report feeling very peaceful and relaxed, while others have described a feeling of "floating" or being wrapped in cotton wool. They may see visions, hear what they believe is the voice of the Lord, or experience some form of healing. They can 'Rest in the Spirit' for as little as a few minutes to as long as several hours.
This phenomenon, which is closely connected with speaking in tongues, has gained unprecedented popularity and is, in fact, a much sought-after experience in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. It has become a trademark of the meetings of many well known preachers since it is often seen as a sign of the spirituality (or anointing) of a minister who is able to impart the Spirit with a touch. [See The Anointing.. arguably the most overused, little understood, term in the Pentecostal and Charismatic arenas]
Perhaps one of the best known of these ministries is that of Benny Hinn, since hundreds of people can be "slain in the spirit" during one of his "services". Some have even fallen over when he gestures in their direction, blows on them, or even waves his jacket in their direction. He is also known to have the "catchers" pick someone off the floor only to again touch, or gesture at them a few minutes later, upon which they promptly fall again. Hinn, as well as a few other showy preachers, often shout "fire!" or "power!" when touching a person and, as has been noted, sometimes seem to use so much force that they appear to be pushing the person.
I find it very interesting that in this video Benny Hinn says his children are "afraid" of him under "the anointing".
(Unfortunately, the video that I had embedded on this page is now "private". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Vo-qDEJo90) It showed Todd Bentley, the preacher from hell, going down a line of people, some of whom did not fall under his rather violent pushes to the head. He then actually stopped in front of one woman and thrice cried out to the Holy Spirit to "drive it out of her"... thus insinuating that she did not fall because she was possessed by an unclean or demonic spirit. When nothing happened, Bentley moved on down the line screaming "power of god").
All too often this is accompanied by uncontrollable and virtually unceasing hysterical laughter, popularly known as a "laughing revival". A 1995 article in Newsweek said...
On a recent weeknight in Toronto, 1,500 worshipers gathered in the Vineyard Christian Church and had a good laugh. It began when a dozen pilgrims from Oregon got up to introduce themselves and then began to fall to the floor, laughing uncontrollably. An hour later, the huge new church looked like a field hospital. Dozens of men and women of all ages were lying on the floor: some were jerking spasmodically; others closed their eyes in silent ecstasy. A middle-aged woman kicked off her pumps and began whooping and trilling in a delicate dance. Scores of others proclaimed deliverance from emotional and physical pains. "I've been living in my spirit," said a woman from Long Island, N.Y., still giggling after 20 minutes on the floor.
These communal laugh-ins have been going on six nights a week, every week, for over a year at the charismatic congregation near Toronto's Pearson International Airport. In all, more than 100,000 people have experienced "the Toronto Blessing, " which believers interpret as an experience of the Holy Spirit much like the "speaking in tongues" mentioned in the New Testament. Hundreds of visiting pastors have taken the Blessing home to roughly 7,000 congregations in Hong Kong, Norway, South Africa and Australia, plus scores of churches in the United States. "It's a gusher of the Holy Spirit," says Pastor John Arnott of the Toronto Vineyard, who now travels around the world spreading the hilarity of the Lord.  [See The Toronto Deception]
And it has spread.. to the furtherest ends of the church
South Korea (There is a 12 second advertisement before the video starts)
The Preachers and Revivals of Yesteryear
As in the case of speaking in tongues, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact origin for the phenomenon of being "slain in the spirit". Something similar did occur in the meetings and revivals of many of the well known preachers of yesteryear. John Wesley (1703 – 1791) a founder of the Methodist denomination who might have been to the practice of being Slain in The Spirit what Charles Parham was to speaking in tongues, wrote in his journals ... (Also See Tongues A Short History. Not every spirit is of God)
Sunday, 25--In the afternoon God was eminently present with us, though rather to comfort than convince. But I observed a remarkable difference, since I was here (Everton) before, as to the manner of the work. None now were in trances, none cried out, none fell down or were convulsed; only some trembled exceedingly, a low murmur was heard, and many were refreshed with the multitude of peace. 
Similar manifestations of people falling under God's power were also said to have taken place in George Whitefield's meeting, Methodist circuit riding preacher Peter Cartwright's meeting, The Kentucky revivals of 1800-1801, Finney's ministry, Andrew Murray's church and the Welsh revival of 1859.
However, what was seen then was largely a very, very different phenomenon from what is daily witnessed in modern churches, occurring more along the lines of people falling under the conviction of sin. This along with the sense of the holiness and majesty of God became too much for the person to bear, and they often fell to the ground crying for mercy. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) believed that people lost bodily strength due to fear of hell and the conviction by the Holy Spirit, or due to a "foretaste" of heaven.
However, pointing out that some phenomena did occur in the ministries of preachers of yesteryear, is as devoid of common sense, and as dangerous as assuming the writing of the so called 'church fathers' to be as reliable as the Scriptures. (In truth, all too many of them penned the most awful manure).
More Recent History
Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924): Some two decades before the Azusa street "revival" a woman called Maria Woodworth-Etter was known as the "trance evangelist" due to the fact that she would often go into a trance like state and was said to place others in a similar state by laying hands on them.
Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944): However it is likely that the practice became more widespread in Pentecostal circles through the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson, controversial founder of the Foursquare Gospel denomination, who was not only a divorcee, but was widely believed to have faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous affair. She eventually died of a barbiturate overdose.
Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976): But perhaps, more than any other person or ministry, it was Kathryn Kuhlman who did the most to popularize both this phenomenon and the charismatic healing and miracles services. Many people fell when Kuhlman prayed for them. The sad fact is that Kuhlman married a man who left his wife and children to marry her, a marriage that lasted a few years before they divorced.
Benny Hinn: was profoundly influenced by both Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson. He authored the book Kathryn Kuhlman: Her Spiritual Legacy and Its Impact on My Life, claiming that her ministry has touched him in "a profound way" since he first attended her Pittsburgh services in 1973" .
In an April 7, 1991 sermon, Hinn revealed that he periodically visited Kuhlman's grave. He has also described visiting Aimee Semple McPherson's grave in Southern California which is, apparently locked, Hinn being one of the few people who has a key. Hinn states that McPherson
"was such a lady that her tomb has seven-foot angels bowing on each side of her tomb with a gold chain around it. As—as incredible as it is that someone would die with angels bowing on each side of her grave, I felt a terrific anointing when I was there. I actually, I—I, hear this, I trembled when I visited Aimee’s tomb. I was shaking all over. God's power came all over me. ... I believe the anointing has lingered over Aimee’s body. I know this may be shocking to you."
The Toronto Blessing: is a worldwide spiritual movement within Pentecostal and charismatic churches, named after the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, where the movement first hit the headlines in January 1994. The so called "anointing" in the form of spiritual manifestations and phenomena was conveyed to Toronto via Rodney Howard-Browne and Randy Clark, founding pastor of the Vineyard Church in St Louis, Missouri.
Rodney Howard-Browne came to the US in 1987, before which he was part of the Rhema church in South Africa. Although there is some dispute as to whether Howard-Browne was an associate pastor or a lecturer/Bible teacher at Rhema, the fact remains that it was, and is, a prominent Word Faith church. 
Randy Clarke: Although he has since resigned from the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC), in 1993 Randy Clarke was the founding pastor of the Vineyard church in St. Louis, Missouri. According to Bill Jackson of the Vineyard movement
After years of seeing little fruit and power in his ministry he became desperately hungry for God. Hearing of unusual manifestations of God's presence through the ministry of South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, Randy attended one of Rodney's meetings in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Randy was powerfully touched and, in going home, began to see a similar outbreak of the Spirit among his people. 
John Arnott: Randy Clark was then was invited to speak at the Toronto Airport Vineyard by pastor John Arnott in 1994, and when he did the meetings were said to have lasted 90 days, and were so powerful that the movement took off within the Vineyard network of churches, and acquired the nickname "the Toronto Blessing." The TB was given huge publicity, and Charismatics from all over the world began flocking to Toronto to "see what God was doing," to catch the blessing and take it back to their own churches. The TB, swiftly became a global phenomenon, putting down roots all over the globe... in Britain, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, etc [See The Toronto Deception]
However, the 'Slain in the Spirit' idea, with all it's accompanying physical manifestations, is directly tied to the Word Faith movement. [See Section on The Word Faith Movement]
In a book by Gary McHale and Michael Haykin, The Toronto Blessing, a Renewal from God? (Canadian Christian Publishers, 1995), John Arnott, pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, is quoted as admitting to having been a friend of Benny Hinn's for 20 years and in his being a leading figure in shaping Arnott's view of divine healing and anointing (p.245). Likewise in January 1994, John Wimber confessed to the impact of Benny Hinn upon him,"...he was the most sweet, broken person I've ever talked to. I cry out now, thinking about it. He's so full of the Holy Ghost. I just loved him." (p.249). Guy Chevreau, an apologist for the Vineyard Church admitted that Arnott "longed for a similar kind of empowerment" as Hinn demonstrated. 
It also has to be noted that, with 'signs and wonders' John Wimber as founder, the Vineyard was probably ripe for the seeds of this particular heresy. Wimber was not only greatly influenced by C. Peter Wagner (they co-instructed a course at the Fuller Theological Seminary, called "Signs, Wonders and Church Growth" ) but, toward the mid to late 1980's, he became enamored by the "The Kansas City Prophets", this affording the Latter Rain a very comfortable home in the Vineyard church, and a huge and influential platform from which to spread their canker.
The Final Arbitrator
But, as said earlier, the final arbitrator in any dispute over spiritual matters is not what took place in this ministry or that, but what the Word of God says. Nothing more, nothing less. When we are confronted with any kind of phenomena, but most especially unusual phenomena, which is claimed to be of Divine origin, any sensible believer will first search the Bible to see whether there is any Biblical foundation for what is taking place.
(For those who tend to believe someone is a man or woman of God, based on their personal testimony, please see Personal Testimony... The Essence of Witnessing?)
So the million dollar question is .... Is There A Biblical Basis For Being "Slain In The Spirit?, "Resting In The Spirit", Being "Drunk In The Spirit"? or for "Holy Laughter"?
Continue To Part II ... Is There A Biblical Basis For Being "Slain In The Spirit? HERE
 The Giggles Are For God by Kenneth L. Woodward. Newsweek Magazine. http://www.newsweek.com/giggles-are-god-185104
 The Journal of John Wesley. Chapter 11...The Truth about Trances.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/journal.vi.xi.xxi.html OR http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/journal.txt
 The Timeless Ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman. http://www.bennyhinnnetwork.com/the-timeless-ministry-of-kathryn-kuhlman
 Inside the most powerful church in south Africa. Monday, 21 June 2010.
 What In The World Is Happening To Us? Selected Stories & Teachings From The History Of Revival. by Bill Jackson (1994)
 The Confusing World of Benny Hinn. A review of the book by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman written by Stephen Sizer for "Evangelicals Now", May 1996 issue. http://www.cnview.com/on_line_resources/the_confusing_world_of_benny_hinn.htm