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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church
Slain In The Spirit

 

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Slain... By What Spirit?
Part III

 Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

Index to All Four Sections

    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

    YOU ARE HERE 001orange 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
Is There A Biblical Basis For "Resting In The Spirit"?
Is There A Biblical Basis For "Shaking In The Spirit" ?
Is There A Biblical Basis For Being "Drunk In The Spirit"?
Is There A Biblical Basis For "Holy Laughter"?

Summary and Conclusion

The Warnings of Yesteryear

The Million Dollar Question

 


Is There A Biblical Basis For "Resting In The Spirit"
"Resting In The Spirit" is said to take place after someone has been 'Slain'. After they fall to the ground, they begin to feel very peaceful and relaxed. Some have described this as a feeling of "floating" or being wrapped in cotton wool. They may see visions, hear what they assume to be 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.

So where does this come from?

Charismatics refer to two incidents in the Bible which speak of someone being put to sleep by the Lord. Then, in a very convoluted way, they compare these incidents with the modern practice of being 'Resting in The Spirit'. However, as you will see, this is a classic example of twisting Scriptures to suit a pre-conceived doctrine. 

Genesis 2:21: The first of these verses is Genesis 2:21, which happens to be about the Lord putting Adam into a deep sleep, then removing one of his ribs.

In his audiotape 'Slain in The Spirit'-Part I (previously cited) John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard Churches) says that Bible translators incorrectly translated the word "sleep" in this verse.

    "How the interpreter gets "sleep" out of this, I'll never know. The word is yashen and it means to be slack. It means to be languid... It does not mean sleep. The Hebrew word for sleep is quite explicit. There are three words that are used commonly. This is not any of these three words".

The problem is that, Genesis 2:21 uses not just the one word, but two.. tardmh and yshn.

    So the LORD God caused a deep sleep (Heb. tardmh) to fall upon the man, and he slept (Heb. yshn); then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. (Genesis 2:21 NASB).

.... And yshn definitely means "sleep", as shown in the following examples.

    So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from beside me while your maidservant slept (Heb. yshn), and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead son in my bosom.  (1 Kings 3:20 NASB)

    So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul's head, and they went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep (Heb. yshn) , because a sound sleep from the LORD had fallen on them.  (1 Samuel 26:12 NASB)

However, tardmh, also used only seven times in the Old Testament, virtually always occurs in connection with the Father causing a deep sleep to fall on someone for a very specific purpose. In Genesis 2:21 He almost literally performed surgery on Adam (in a manner of speaking) and knocked him out to do so. In 1 Samuel 26:12  He caused a deep sleep to fall on Saul so that David and his men could take a spear and the jug of water from beside Saul's head, although he could just as well have killed Saul. The chapter later has David saying, "... the LORD delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the LORD'S anointed." (Vs. 23)

The other uses of the word are in connection with some kind of revelation or vision.  

    For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers. The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, "Please read this," he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed." (Isaiah 29:10-11 NASB)

Which is exactly why the word was used in ...

Genesis 15:12:

    Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep (Heb. tardmh) fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.  (Genesis 15:12 NASB)

Bill Jackson cites this verse in defense of the strange phenomenon known as 'resting in the spirit'. He says...

    1. The most common phenomena we have seen in our meetings is people falling down, commonly called "resting in the Spirit." Often they remain conscious but engaged with the Lord. They feel weak and find it difficult to do anything but rest with God. We have seen that as they lay with the Lord, they have had significant changes in their lives. What, if any, biblical precedent is there for this?

    2. Gen. 15:12: "Abram fell into a deep sleep and a thick, dreadful darkness came over him." This literally reads, "a deep sleep fell on Abram." The Hebrew word radam means to be in, or fall into, a deep sleep. This is the same word that is used when God put Adam to sleep when he made Eve (Gen. 2:21; cf. 17:17: "Abraham fell face down"). [11]

What happened to Abraham is light years away from the concept of 'Resting in the Spirit'. The entire incident was a special event signifying or confirming God's covenant with Abraham, and there was obviously some unpleasantness associated with it as well.

Bill Jackson also says to compare Genesis 17:17. However, there is NO comparison because, when he fell Abraham was, for some reason, laughing at what the Lord had said, which means he wasn't in a "deep sleep"..

    Then Abraham fell (Heb. nphal) on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" (Genesis 17:17 NASB)

(Note: There is much disagreement as to whether Abraham's laughter should be understood as him laughing with joy that he would father a child, or whether incredulity prompted his amusement. Whether the word variously translated "nay", "but", or "nevertheless" is actually in the original text, would probably be deciding factor. However, this does not concern us here. The fact remains that Abraham was laughing as he fell on the ground.)

Numbers 24:4: The oracle of him who hears the words of God, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down (Heb. nphal), yet having his eyes uncovered,  (Numbers 24:4 NASB)

The KJV translates this verse as "falling into a trance, but having his eyes open".  As said by commentator Adam Clarke... "There is no indication in the Hebrew that he fell into a trance; these words are added by our translators, but they are not in the original". The only word used is nphal which simply signifies falling, and is often used for religious prostration.


Is There A Biblical Basis For "Shaking in The Spirit"?
Turning once more to Bill Jackson's 1994 essay, in which he says

    Shaking is also common in our meetings and is one of the hardest phenomena to understand. The kinds of shaking vary greatly. Sometimes the shaking is accompanied by all sorts of bodily contortions; sometimes mild, sometimes almost violent. What, if any, biblical precedent is there? [12]

In support of the physical phenomena that takes place at their meetings, Jackson cites several Biblical passages, among which are two that speak about inanimate objects shaking or trembling. However, there is no similarity between the verses... (I have used the NASB, which is not the version Jackson has quoted. But, in this case, it makes no difference).

    Psalms 114:7 says... "Tremble, O earth, before the Lord, Before the God of Jacob".

A modicum of common sense should tell us that when a non-living thing is said to "tremble", it is figurative language used for emphasis or effect and, except for some of the situations in the book of Revelation, not meant to be taken literally.

    Acts 4:31 reads... And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken (Gk. saleuo), and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

The situation in Acts is very different. The Greek word saleuo, used 15 times in the New Testament, literally means to shake, move, or agitate. The same word is used in Acts 16:26 when the walls of the prison were literally shaken, in Luke 21:26, Matthew 24:9 and Mark 13:25, which speak of the day God will shake the powers of the heavens, and in Luke 6:48 referring to the flood that could not shake the house built on a rock.

However, saleuo is used in reference to men only three times, and never means a literal shaking. Note...

    For David says of Him, 'I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken (Gk. saleuo). (Acts 2:25 NASB)

    But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring (Gk. saleuo up the crowds. (Acts 17:13 NASB)

    that you not be quickly shaken (Gk. saleuo from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2:2 NASB)

In other words, Psalms 114:7 and Acts 4:31 cannot be used to justify the physical shaking that often takes place in charismatic church meetings.

What about the other verses that Jackson cites in his article? In the first three examples, I have quoted the verse in context (The number of the particular verse quoted by Jackson is in bold)

    [6] His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. (7) Now I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, while the men who were with me did not see the vision; nevertheless, a great dread (KJB quaking) fell on them, and they ran away to hide themselves.  (8) So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength.  (Daniel 10:6-8 NASB)

    [21] 'Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes but do not see; Who have ears but do not hear.  (22) 'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. (23) 'But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.' (Jeremiah 5:21-23 NASB)

    [3] And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.  (4) The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.  (5) The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified." [Matthew 28:3-5 NASB]

    The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! (Psalms 99:1 NASB)

    You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.  (James 2:19 NASB)

Bill Jackson did not quote the entire verse from Habakkuk, only the part underlined below

    I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. (Habakkuk 3:16 NASB)

I am afraid that neither none of these examples can be used in support of convulsing on a church floor. Every single time the Bible speaks of people trembling or quaking , it is in the context of being afraid. Even the guards shook with fear when the angel appeared at the tomb, which brings us to the fact that although we commonly use the expression shaking with fear, we do not necessarily literally move. (Nor do we literally 'cry our eyes out' or 'shake in our boots'). In fact, the account in Matthew 28 says the guards became like dead men. As far as I know, dead men don't shake.

Similarly, even inanimate objects are said to "tremble" at the Father's wrath. Again, it is figurative language.

    But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.  (Jeremiah 10:10 NASB)

Finally, concerning James 2:19, if you wish to compare your actions with those of demons, well... that is entirely up to you.


Impartation Of Spiritual Gifts?

However, Jackson does say "In the verses where the cause of shaking is mentioned, it has to do with holy fear. The shaking we are experiencing seems to be related more to prophetic ministry and impartation of spiritual gifts of which parallels can be seen in Fox's ministry."  [13]

1 Corinthians 12 and 13 are almost exclusively devoted to the gifts of the Spirit. Chapter 12 opens with the words.... "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware". Paul then goes on to talk about the diversities of gifts which come from God through the Spirit (vs. 4-6). What these gifts are, and how they are dispensed (Vs. 7-11). How we should earnestly covet the best gifts (Vs. 31). etc. etc. etc.  Yet, there is not one word about any one 'shaking' when they receive a spiritual gift.

When virtually every Biblical example of people or objects shaking is in the context of fear of the Lord, and there is not a single instance of anyone shaking in the context of "prophetic ministry" or any "impartation of spiritual gifts", then it is an extreme stretch to connect the two.


Jeremiah's Bones "Trembled"
The final verse quoted is Jeremiah 23:9, of which Jackson says

    In speaking of his prophetic experience, Jeremiah says, "My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man overcome by wine because of the Lord and his holy words." This is a significant verse because Jeremiah is relating that what happened to him on at least one occasion involved a trembling/shaking of his bones. His wording seems to imply that he shook from the inside out. It would take a powerful force to cause his bones to quiver inside his body. The analogy to being overcome could also be a reference to being entranced by the coming of a prophetic word. This text is an answer to God's plea in Jer. 5:22. [14]

If Jackson, or anyone else, wishes to use this passage as a Biblical precedent, then they cannot pick and choose which of the prophet's words to take literally. Jeremiah give only two "symptoms".. A broken heart and trembling bones. So if we are take it that his bones were literally trembling, then we also have to assume that his heart was also literally broken. In which case, it was curtains for the young prophet.

Similarly, in another verse Jackson quotes, the prophet Habakkuk speaks not only of "trembling", but of decay entering into his bones.

And, by the way, what Jackson calls God's "plea" in Jeremiah 5:22 is not a plea at all, but a threat. Read it in context...

    [20] "Declare this in the house of Jacob And proclaim it in Judah, saying, (21) 'Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes but do not see; Who have ears but do not hear. (22) 'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.  (23) But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed. (24) They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us The appointed weeks of the harvest." (Jeremiah 5:20-24 NASB)

The Lord was saying that the sea, one of the mightiest of His creations could not cross the boundary of the sand, yet a foolish and senseless people, with no fear of God, turns aside and breaks His laws with impunity. Verse 29 has the Lord asking the rhetorical question.... 'Shall I not punish these people?' .... 'On a nation such as this Shall I not avenge Myself?'


Trances?

The New Testament twice speaks of someone falling into a trance. The first time is when Peter had a remarkable vision, by which he learned that the Gospel would be extended to the gentiles. The second was when Paul was warned by our Lord that the Jews in Jerusalem would not believe that he, who once persecuted them, had been converted.

    But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; (Acts 10:10 NASB)

    "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me,  (Acts 11:5 NASB)

    "It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, (Acts 22:17 NASB)

Because, in modern usage, the word "trance" usually conjures up the idea of a hypnotic or cataleptic semiconscious state, I have to wonder if "trance" is a good translation of the Greek word, ekstasis, used in both instances.  Although modern dictionaries define the as "to be or stand outside oneself', both Peter and Paul saw a vision.

Ekstasis occurs only seven times in the New Testament and, in the other four occurrences, has been translated amazement... always in the face of something supernatural. On three occasions, people were said to be "amazed" at a miracle (Mark 5:42, Luke 5:26, Acts 3:10) and, in Mark 16, the women were amazed when they entered Jesus' tomb, only to encounter an angel who told them Jesus had risen.

In other words, it is not possible to use what happened in the early church to justify what occurs in the modern one.


Summary and Conclusion
In short, apart from shoddy and superficial interpretation of the texts there is no basis for the shaking and bodily contortions seen in today's church meetings and so called revivals.

In fact, it is quite telling how the same extraordinary physical symptoms turn up in the most questionable places. In a book entitled 'Three Famous Occultists' (Dr. John Dee, Franz Anton Mesmer and Thomas Lake Harris) by a contemporary historian describes what happened at some of Mesmer's healing sessions.

    'Some are calm, tranquil and experience no effect. Others cough, spit, feel slight pains, local or general heat, and have sweatings. Others, again, are agitated and tormented with convulsions. These convulsions are remarkable in regard to the number affected with them, to their duration and force. They are preceded and followed by a state of languor or reverie' [15]


Is There A Biblical Basis For Being "Drunk In The Spirit"?
Bill Jackson of the Vineyard also endeavors to justify being "drunk in the spirit" by saying that on Pentecost, when the disciples were accused of being drunk, it was because they had to have been acting like drunks. The verses in question read thus...

    (6) And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. (7)  They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  (8) "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?  (9) Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, (10) Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,  (11)  Cretans and Arabs--we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." (12) And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"  (13)  But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine." (14) But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. (15) For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; (16) but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: (Acts 2:6-16 NASB)

Of this Jackson says...

    The text never says that they were but it is obviously inferred. They would not be accused of being drunk because they were speaking in different languages. They would have been accused of such because they were acting like drunks, i.e., laughing, falling, slurred speech by some, boldness through lack of restraint, etc. The analogy of the gift of the Spirit being "new wine" would lend itself to the connection. [16]

Unfortunately neither the Greek, nor common sense agrees with him. Note the Greek words used in two of the passages.

    They were amazed (Gk. existemi) and astonished (Gk. thaumazo), saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? (Acts 2:7 NASB)

    And they all continued in amazement (Gk. existemi) and great perplexity (Gk. diaporeo) , saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine." But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: (Acts 2:12-16 NASB)

The meaning of the three Greek words used is as follows...

    Existemi: The Greek word existemi (translated into the English amazed) literally means to be astounded or amazed.

    Thaumazo: While, according to Vincents Word Studies, thaumazo (the KJB renders it marvelled) denotes continuing wonder; meaning to regard with amazement, and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter.

    Diaporeo: According to Strong's, this words means to be thoroughly nonplussed, be in doubt, be much perplexed. Robertson's word pictures says the word means "to be wholly at a loss". It is based on the root word aporeo.... "to have no way out"

The text twice tells us that all the crowd were amazed (existemi). And Luke does not leave us in the dark as to what had amazed them. Verse 7b tells us that their amazement and wonder is rooted in the fact that the disciples were speaking in native tongues of the crowd that they themselves, being Galileans, did not speak... a fact that the crowd was well aware of.  Furthermore, which says "we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God" means the hearers did not merely recognize the languages, but understood what the disciples were saying.


Two Groups
The Bible is very clear. All the people who were present in Jerusalem that day, and who heard the disciples speak in tongues about the mighty works of God, were amazed and baffled. However it is readily apparent that there were two groups of people present that day...

    And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others were mocking (Gk. chleuazo) and saying, "They are full of sweet wine." (Acts 2:12-13 NASB)

The first group in the crowd, wholly at a loss to explain what was going on, were curious... wanting to know what was taking place. They asked themselves (and perhaps each other) what this could mean.

However, the second group who were also amazed, became rather hostile, and instead of trying to find out what was behind it all, resorted to deriding the disciples, calling them drunk.

The problem is, drunks are easily recognizable. How can we legitimately see the disciples acting like drunks If all the people were amazed... some so much so that they gave voice to their amazement, asking what was going on. Were the disciples actually acting drunk (laughing, falling, slurring their speech, showing lack of restraint etc.), no one in the crowd would have been 'perplexed' by their conduct.  Drunks perplex no one.

So the question is what group B meant when they said the disciples were full of sweet wine.

The answer is simple. People often mock or jeer at what they do not understand, what they do not believe, or if they have closed their minds (in this case to the things of God). Group B were simply fore-runners of many millions of people to come. As a good example, the Greek word chleuazo is used one other time in the New Testament, where it is translated "sneer".

    (31 "because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."  (32) Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer (Gk. chleuazo), but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." (33) So Paul went out of their midst. (Acts 17:31-33 NASB)

Conclusion: The disciples did not exhibit any drunken behavior, therefore this passage cannot be used as an excuse for the excesses that take place in the so called church.


Ephesians 5:18
Jackson also writes..

    In a passage dealing with the Ephesians putting off their old carousing lifestyle, Paul exhorts them, "Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled (Greek present tense: "keep on being filled") with the Holy Spirit."

    Paul is contrasting carnal drunkenness with spiritual filling. Given the tense of the Greek verb, he appears to also be making an analogy as well as a contrast. Being filled with God's Spirit is similar to being drunk on wine. The difference is that the former is holy while the other is sinful. [17]

The passage he is referring to is ("...do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit") is part of Paul's instructions to the Ephesians to walk wisely. Each instruction, regarding what they should refrain from, is accompanied by a related instruction regarding what they should do. For example, he said ... (All Emphasis Added)

    a) there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (5:4 )

    b) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (5:11 )

    c) So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (5:17 )

    d) do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, (5:18 )

If one were to check with a literal translation, the tense appears to be exactly the same in all the commands. For example compare two of the instructions as rendered by the Concordant Literal Version ...

    And be not joint participants in the unfruitful acts of darkness, yet rather be exposing them also, (Ephesians 5:11 CLV)

    And be not drunk with wine, in which is profligacy, but be filled full with spirit,  (Ephesians 5:18 CLV)

Conclusion: Paul was not making any analogy between carnal drunkenness and spiritual filling, but was merely telling them that the wise would be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of wine.


Is There A Biblical Basis For "Holy Laughter"?
In his 1995 article entitled Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion, Warren Smith described some of what was taking place in the so called "laughing revival". He said he

    talked with several members of the San Francisco Vineyard congregation I was told how hundreds of people were getting "hit" with "revival"how some people were getting so "soaked in the spirit" they would lose consciousness for up to several hours after falling to the ground with "holy" laughter. The Vineyard members described "holy" laughter unqualifiedly as "awesome" and definitely "the work of the Lord."

Within weeks, Smith caught a program on "holy" laughter on a local Christian TV station.

    The panel of guests were enthusiastically discussing "holy" laughter and endorsing it unquestioningly as a latter days "outpouring" of Gods Holy Spirit. Comparing "holy" laughter to the "work" of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were convinced that "holy" laughter was completely authentic. They equated "holy" laughter with the biblical notion of joy. As far as they were concerned "holy" laughter was the "joy of the Lord." Scriptural references to joy were cited; testimonies were given; songs were sung; and by the end of the program I felt like I had just watched a one hour info-mercial on "holy" laughter.

    Then, several weeks later, there was a program about "holy" laughter on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While preacher Rodney Howard-Browne was giving what appeared to be a serious message, people in the audience were laughing wildly for no apparent reason. But Howard-Browne seemed oblivious to the disruption and kept on preaching. Then when the laughter was at its height he began incorporating all that was happening into his sermon. He said that the "holy" laughter they were experiencing was a last days expression of Gods "Holy Spirit." He too compared the "Spirit" that was manifesting to the Spirit at Pentecost. He reminded his audience how those gathered in the upper room had been viewed by others as being "drunk" on alcohol when in fact they were "drunk" in the Spirit.

     Howard-Browne's audience continued to laugh hilariously as he spoke of a present day "revival" and how "holy" laughter was ushering in this "revival." At the end of the service Howard-Browne shuffled around the huge assembly hall, now breaking into long fits of laughter himself. [18]


Laughter Vs. Joy
To start with, it is incorrect and misleading to substitute the word 'laughter', when the Bible says 'joy'. They are different words and mean different things.  Any dictionary in the world will tell you that "joy" is happiness, and while happiness can be expressed in laughter, it is not necessarily, or even usually, the case.  One can be extremely happy with out laughing out loud. As a matter of fact, when we are happy, we actually tend to smile, far more often than we burst out laughing.

A search on the words laugh, laughter, laughed etc. in the Bible brings up some very interesting, but hardly surprising results.  The combined total number of results for all the words was a mere 34, of which only 6 were in the New Testament.

Let me re-emphasize that ... The word is used a paltry 6 times in the entire New Testament and only 28 times in the entire Old Testament.

However, breaking down how the words are used is even more revealing..

    a) 6 references are to either Abraham or Sarah laughing when God told them that they would have a child in their old age. (Bill Jackson of the Vineyard says that "John Wimber believes that laughter accompanies revivals because it represents God's sovereign activity to heal the barrenness of his people."). See Footnote  

    b) At least 14, or almost one third of the total references, directly mention scornful or derisive laughter.

    c) Four are in Ecclesiastes of which one clearly states that sorrow is better than laughter, another says there is time for laughter, and a third talks about the laughter of fools. A fourth says laughter is "madness". (Ecclesiastes 3:4, 2:2, 7:3, 7:6).

    d) Proverbs 14:13 says "Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief", while Proverbs 29:9 says, "When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.  (Proverbs 29:9 NASB)"

    e) Two are unrelated
    "When she lifts herself on high, She laughs at the horse and his rider.  (Job 39:18 NASB)

    "He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; And he does not turn back from the sword.  (Job 39:22 NASB)

    f) And, finally, three of the six New Testament verses actually warn against laughter (the three are scornful laughter). Read them carefully

    "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  (Luke 6:21 NASB)

    "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. (Luke 6:25 NASB)

    Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.  (James 4:9 NASB)

In fact, only two verses speak of "Godly" laughter.

    "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter And your lips with shouting.  (Job 8:21 NASB)

    Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."  (Psalms 126:2 NASB)

I am sure I have lost count of the verses but, hopefully, you see what I am talking about. It certainly doesn't mean that God doesn't have a sense of humor or that people in the Bible never laughed, but simply that God did not choose to place much emphasis on laughter, which is often for the wrong reasons.

Conclusion: There is no biblical basis for "laughing revivals". Certainly Jesus' words "woe unto you who laugh now!" do not bode well for those that participate in them.


Summary and Conclusion

Slain in The Spirit
Voluntary Falling:
There is not one single instance in the Bible where the "power" is channeled through another person. None of the Biblical figures were touched by another person, knocked down or put to sleep by the "spirit". All of them fell voluntarily either as a voluntary act of obeisance or, in a few cases, as a result of being overwhelmed by the presence of God (Next point). Although there was never a middle man in the Scriptures, in modern day services God only "moves" through an intermediary.

    a) In all the incidents people voluntarily fell forward, their face to the ground as a sign of reverence, and in acknowledgement of the glory, and magnificence of God's presence.

    b) None of them uttered gibberish, laughed hysterically, convulsed on the floor, described feelings of peace and tranquility, or the sensation of "electricity" going through their bodies.... All of which are, in varying degrees and proportions, par for the course in today's manifestations.

    c) At no time were any of the persons in the Bible oblivious to their surrounding, but, much to the contrary, were all in complete control of their senses. For example, Joshua fell, then asked what the "captain of the host" had to say to him. The angel gave Joshua instructions to take his shoes off, which Joshua immediately obeyed. Manoah made a normal coherent comment to his wife who replied using logic and common sense..

Involuntary Falling:
In a very limited number of instances in the Scriptures people were unable to keep their feet, as a result of being overwhelmed by the presence of God. However, this took place on very rare occasions, under some very exceptional circumstances, ie. the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:14) and when Daniel and John received hugely important, and related revelation describing very significant events that would take place at the end of days

    a) God does not need 'catchers" who stand behind people to lower them to the ground when they are 'Slain in the Spirit'. He is quite capable of seeing to it that people are "blessed" without injuring themselves. The Holy Spirit is not in the business of embarrassing people, and certainly the Father would never put His daughters in embarrassing positions, requiring someone to cover their lower bodies with a sheet.

Resting In The Spirit
The only specific instances when God put someone into a deep sleep was when He removed one of Adam's ribs. Using the same Hebrew word, Abraham was also said to have fallen into a deep sleep when god confirmed His covenant with Abraham.

Shaking In The Spirit
When virtually every Biblical example of people or objects shaking is in the context of fear of the Lord, and there is not a single instance of anyone shaking in the context of "prophetic ministry" or any "impartation of spiritual gifts", then it is an extreme stretch to connect the two. Besides which, a modicum of common sense should tell us that when a non-living thing is said to "tremble", it is figurative language used for emphasis or effect and, except for some of the situations in the book of Revelation, not meant to be taken literally. Oh Yes! and Jeremiah's bones didn't literally tremble.

Being Drunk in the Spirit
The disciples did not exhibit any drunken behavior.  If they had, no one in the crowd would have been amazed at what was happening... Everyone recognizes a drunk. The people who mocked the disciples saying they were full of sweet wine, having closed their minds were jeering at what they did not understand, and did not believe. They were simply fore-runners of many millions of people to come.

"Holy" Laughter
There is no biblical basis for "laughing revivals". Certainly Jesus' words "woe unto you who laugh now!" do not bode well for those that participate in them.


The Warnings of Yesteryear
While it is exceedingly common for people to point to various ministries and claim that since this person was "mightily" used of God, whatever manifestations took place in that ministry had to also have been from God, it is a specious and misleading rationalization.  It does not follow that because a person may have been used of God, they were never mistaken in any of their beliefs, and no false spirits ever infiltrated their meetings. 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.  Besides which, these very men issued warnings that we are very quick to ignore.

Bill Jackson of the Vineyard quotes Jonathan Edwards as saying

    Many have had their religious affections raised far beyond what they had ever been before; and there were some instances of persons lying in a sort of trance, remaining perhaps for a whole twenty-four hours motionless, and with their senses locked up; but in the mean time under strong imaginations, as though they went to heaven and had there a vision of glorious and delightful objects. [19]

However Bill Jackson failed to quote the rest of the paragraph which reads...

    But when the people were raised to this height, Satan took the advantage, and his interposition, in many instances, soon became very apparent: and a great deal of caution and pains were found necessary to keep the people, many of them, from running wild. [20]

Similarly ....

    John Wesley warned "Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions, or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from Nature. They may be from the devil. Therefore believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be from God." [21]

    A.B. Simpson, who believed in supernatural gifts and manifestations, observed, "There have been many instances where [seeking for] the gift of tongues led the subjects and the audiences in to the wildest excesses and were accompanied with voices and actions more closely resembling wild animals than rational beings, impressing the unprejudiced observers that it was the work of the devil.  [22]

    Paul Rader, pastor of Moody Memorial Church and President of the C&MA after Simpsons death, writes of casting out a demon from a man who came down the aisle of Moody Church barking like a dog. [23]

    Pentecostal leader Charles Parham also described manifestations of barking like a dog, braying like a donkey, crowing like a rooster, and contortions and fits as demonic. [24]

Authors Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts wrote "War on the Saints: a disclosure of the deceptive strategies used by evil spirits against God's people." to combat the deception that arose during the Welsh revival at the turn of this century. Both were very involved with the revival and were extremely concerned about the demonic manifestations that began to dominate their meetings. The forward to War on the Saints warns of "the grave dangers that beset the path of uninformed enthusiasm. [25]. While there have been some controversies surrounding Jessie Penn-Lewis' influences on Evan Roberts, a leading figure of the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival, one of the points she made in Chapter 6 of her War on the Saints, is extremely striking.

    Counterfeit manifestations of the Divine life in various ways now follow quickly; movements in the body, pleasant thrills, touches, a glow as of fire in different parts of the body; or sensations of cold, or shakings, and tremblings; all accepted by the believer as from God, but showing what a full entry the deceiving spirit has obtained to the bodily frame; for there is a distinction between the manifestations of evil spirits "with"  and "in" the body and mind of the believer;

The physical symptoms she included as being among the counterfeits were.

    grief and joy, heat and cold, laughter and tears, all succeed each other in rapid changes, and varied degrees--in brief, the emotional sensibilities seem to have full play. [26]

And Not Quite So 'Yesteryear'
In fact, the website Bible.ca, quotes John Wimber and Benny Hinn as saying

John Wimber

    "There's nothing in Scripture that supports these kinds of phenomena that I can see, and I can't think of anything throughout the church age that would,' Wimber writes. 'So I feel no obligation to try to explain it. It's just phenomena. It's just people responding to God.'"

    "There is no place in the Bible where people were lined up and Jesus or Paul or anyone else went along and tapped them on the head and watched them go down, one after another, and somebody else ran along behind. Can you picture Peter and James -- "Hold it, hold it, hold it!" -- running along behind trying to catch them? And so the model that we're seeing, either on stage or on television, is totally different from anything that's in Scripture." (John Wimber, "Spiritual Phenomena: Slain In The Spirit -- Part 1," Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Anaheim, CA, 1981, audiotape)

Benny Hinn

    "You have so much today that is pure flesh, yet people have labeled it as the Spirit. It's not the Spirit, because it's not centered on Christ. It's pure emotionalism. Some of what is happening today, some of these manifestations where people are barking, making sounds of animals - I can tell you, that is not the Holy Spirit. It is purely demonic. The Holy Ghost does not bark. Only a devil barks. If somebody barks in my meeting, I'll cast the devil out of that man."

    "You watching TBN here. If you're doing such nonsense, get back to the Bible. And don't you dare experiment with what is not Scriptural, checking out if God is in it. My brother, if it's not in the Bible, He's not in it!! If it's not in the Word of God, He is not in it. (Benny Hinn Condemns Toronto Blessing/Pensacola Phenomena Praise The Lord July 4, 1997 videotape transcript) [27]

Anyway it did not take very long for people to gravitate from "falling under the conviction of sin" to the complete farce it is today. But the question has to be asked... what is behind this phenomenon?


The Million Dollar Question
By now, it should be patently obvious that the practice of being slain in the spirit, with all it's accompanying manifestations, does not find it's origins in the Bible. Supposed parallels drawn between Scriptural descriptions of people, voluntarily or involuntarily, falling on their faces, with modern practices are not parallels at all, since the points of similarity are almost non existent.

The  fact is that the only people in the New Testament who manifested irrational behavior of any kind, were those who were demon possessed. Except, perhaps, for the foaming at the mouth, the manifestations of the 'Slain in the Spirit' phenomena bears an alarming resemblance to the symptoms exhibited by the boy possessed by a spirit, brought to Jesus by his father, after the disciples were unsuccessful in casting out the demon that controlled him.

    They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. (Mark 9:20 NASB)

What was, in Jesus' time, considered proof of demonic possession, is now considered proof of Divine favor... an indication of how far we have fallen. 

But we are still left with one tremendously important question. While there is little doubt that some people, caught off balance, are quite literally pushed to the floor, too many others have reported feeling an "energy" or "force" that caused them to fall backwards. So where does this 'energy' or 'power' come from?

The answer is just the same as it was when the Messiah walked the earth...

I know that many orthodox Christians believe it is some kind of mass hysteria or post hypnotic suggestion. While this may be partially true, I am afraid that all the evidence quite clearly indicates that the 'power' and the resulting manifestations come directly from occult sources. This is best illustrated by comparing the experiences and behavior of the people at Toronto, Brownsville, Lakeland and countless other Charismatic churches with disciples of Hindu gurus, who have had a spiritual power, or 'kundalini awakening' conferred on them.

What is truly alarming is that the requirements for receiving are the same, the methods of transmissions are the same, and the physical manifestations are the same. Let me repeat that... The requirements for receiving are the same, the methods of transmissions are the same, and the physical manifestations are the same.


Continue To 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 HERE

 

Endnotes

[11] Bill Jackson. What In The World Is Happening To Us? Selected Stories & Teachings From The History Of Revival (1994).
http://www.evanwiggs.com/revival/manifest/holylaff.html

[12] ibid.

[13] ibid.

[14] ibid.

[15] Three Famous Occultists by G. M. Hort (Author), W. P. Swainson (Author) Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (September 10, 2010). Pg. 87

[16] Bill Jackson. What In The World Is Happening To Us? Selected Stories & Teachings From The History Of Revival (1994).
http://www.evanwiggs.com/revival/manifest/holylaff.html

[17] ibid.

[18] Warren B Smith . Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion? (Published in the Fall 1994 issue of the SCP Newsletter).
http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/holy-laughter-or-strong-delusion-warren-smith.html

[19] ibid.

[20] Jonathan Edward's Account of the Revival of Religion in Northampton in 1740-1742 As Communicated in a Letter to the Rev. Thomas Prince of Boston, MA. Available online at http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=3435 and
http://articles.ochristian.com/article3435.shtml

[21] A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. As Believed and Taught by The Reverend Mr. John Wesley, From the Year 1725, to the Year 1777. The Works of John Wesley (1872 ed. by Thomas Jackson), vol. 11, # 29, pp. 366-446. The Wesley Center Online web site. http://wesley.nnu.edu/?id=786

[22] A.B. Simpson, Christian and Missionary Alliance Weekly, Feb. 2, 1907

[23] Paul Rader, At Thy WordA Farewell Message, The Alliance Weekly, Nov. 20, 1920, 532.

[24] Charles Parham, The Everlasting Gospel (Baxter Springs, n.d.), Pgs 71-72

[25] Warren Smith. Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion.
http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=17795&forum=34&7

[26] Jessie Penn-Lewis. War on the Saints. Chapter 6...Counterfeits of the Divine. http://www.apostasynow.com/wots/Chap06.html. Based on the unabridged 1912 edition

[27] As quoted in A refutation of the tract called, "What's Going On? An Extraordinary Visitation of God!" By Dr. Shirley A. Elenbaas of White Horse Christian Center. http://www.bible.ca/tongues-defend-manifestions.htm

 

Heresy-Back

Slain In The Spirit... Part II

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