By Thomas Williamson
3131 S. Archer Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60608
There are many religious movements nowadays that claim
to be receiving new revelations from God, in addition to those
found in the Bible. One basic problem with such new revelations
is that there is no way to be sure that all of them are really
from God. This is freely admitted by the religious leaders who
propagate the new revelations.
The Mormon religion is based almost entirely on new revelations as found in the Book of Mormon and other documents from the early 19th Century. Early Mormons were faced with the dilemma of realizing that not all of those new revelations were of God - and their founder Joseph Smith honestly confessed that not all his revelations were from God.
MORMON FOUNDER ADMITS, SOME OF HIS PROPHECIES WERE OF THE DEVIL. David Whitmer, one of the 3 witnesses to the Book of Mormon, told this story of a new revelation or prophecy from God which turned out to be false:
"Brother Hyrum [Smith] said it had been suggested to him that some of the brethren might go to Toronto, Canada, and sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon for considerable money: and he persuaded Joseph [Smith] to inquire of the Lord about it. Joseph concluded to do so. He had not yet given up the stone. Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon.
"Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copyright, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father's house when they returned. I was there also, and am an eyewitness to these facts. . . . Well, we were all in great trouble, and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking.
"Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil.' So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or the heart of man."
This is the foundational dilemma of all modern prophets who claim to be receiving new revelations. No one can, with any degree of certainty, sort out the messages as to whether they come from God, man or the devil.
EVERYTHING'S UP TO DATE IN KANSAS CITY. This uncertainty about new revelations had not yet been solved by the time of the Kansas City Prophets, a group of charismatic preachers who in the 1980's became famous for their revelations and words of wisdom. David Pytches investigated this phenomenon in a very sympathetic manner in his 1991 book "Some Said it Thundered - A Personal Encounter With the Kansas City Prophets," and wrestled mightily with the whole question of how to tell which prophecies were true and which were not. Pytches interviewed the Prophets and discussed that issue:
"We asked tactfully if any of them was ever wrong.
"They all agreed that they occasionally had been proved wrong. Sometimes their revelation was right but their interpretation or application was wrong. According to Mike Bickle, who confirmed that they certainly could be wrong, the problem seemed to be that they were right too often to be ignored. There was little problem over the revelations - the difficulties were more likely to be over the interpretations.
"In the Old Testament they would have been put to death for giving false prophecy (Deut 18:20); but Mike pointed to the grace of God who had instructed simply, through New Testament revelation, that their visions and prophecies should be weighed by others (1 Cor. 14:29).
"No one should act on one prophecy alone. If it comes independently as a confirmation of something that God had already been speaking about in other ways, it certainly would be an encouragement to proceed in that direction. . . . But if the revelation is something completely new and out of the blue, it is important to wait, watch, and pray for further confirmation.
"We asked them how they felt about getting things wrong. They all agreed that it could be humiliating. Nowadays they have learned to offer their visions with some clear disclaimers to any idea of infallibility just in case anyone should want to assume a prophet could never err. But they still felt confused and sometimes rejected if they got it wrong. . . .
"The problem lies in discerning who is a prophet and who is not, as well as which prophecies are true and which are false. Years ago Derek Prince told me the only way to determine if futuristic prophecy was true or false was to wait and see if it came to pass. That's wisdom."
SOLUTION TO FALSE PROPHECY - MEND IT, DON'T END IT. "Prophet" Mike Bickle admitted, "And so, though we want to grow in prophecy, we don't believe everything that's said. We've been given 10,000 prophecies, and I believe there's only a small number that I've really cherished in my heart as from the Lord. So do we get mad at the people that gave the other ones? No. We just let them go - just set them on the shelf and just let their . . . let them go on down the river . . . because there's showy people, because there's proud men and women. We don't throw out the gift; we ask God to perfect it."
"Prophet" Bob Jones (not to be confused with the founders of Bob Jones University in South Carolina) commented, "Boy, there's a lot of people that don't like the thought that prophets are only 2/3 right on. They want to make us Old Testament prophets, and we should prophesy, literally in groups, or literally prophesy to the leadership until 3 or 4 of us bring the same word. Yes, because New Testament prophets can absolutely miss."
LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE OF FALSE PROPHECY. Rick Joyner, an enthusiastic supporter of the Kansas City Prophets, said in his Morning Star Prophetic Newsletter, "Bob [Jones] was told that the general level of prophetic revelation in the church was about 65% accurate at this time. Some are only about 10% accurate, a very few of the most mature prophets are approaching 85% to 95% accuracy. Prophecy is increasing in purity, but there is still a long way to go for those who walk in this ministry. This is actually grace for the church now, because 100% accuracy in this ministry will bring a level of accountability to the church which she is too immature to bear at this time; it would result in too many Ananias and Sapphiras.' That so many the [sic] prophetic ministries are still missing so much is also meant to work humility and wisdom so that they will be able to handle the authority and power coming in the near future."
The Kansas City Prophets, with an accuracy rate as low as 10%, sounded forth an extremely uncertain sound of the trumpet. They stirred up opposition from their erstwhile supporters in the charismatic community, when they sent "prophets" to the other charismatic churches, to "prophesy" that the other churches were to either be disbanded or else come under the authority of the Kansas City Prophets.
Charismatic pastor Ernie Gruen realized that the Kansas City Prophets were not of God, and challenged Mike Bickle directly. "Over a year ago, Pastor Gruen approached Mike regarding his concern over reports of bizarre prophecies and damage done to families by personal prophecies from Bob Jones that did not come to pass.
"Reporting on their conversation, Ernie noted the following: So when I asked Mike about him [Bob], he said, "Only 60% of his prophecies come true and he is a problem to me. I had to sit him down, and I don't let him prophesy." Yet you pick up Charisma Magazine and it says that, "his track record has earned him a place of honor at Grace Ministries (Kansas City Fellowship)."
"Why is it that privately they say he is a problem and that most of his prophecies don't come true, and yet publicly, for hype's sake, he is portrayed to the nation as a reliable prophet?'"
NAKED AMBITION. "Prophet" Bob Jones turned out to be unreliable in other ways. The Apologetics Index web site reported on "Jones, Bob. One of the Kansas City Prophets. Seen by some as the most controversial of the Kansas City Prophets. Was removed from the Vineyard Anaheim because of sexual improprieties, which consisted of encouraging women to undress in his office so they could stand naked before the Lord' in order to receive a word.' Still active today, with the abundant support of Rick Joyner, Jones is a major proponent of Latter Rain and Manifest Sons theology."
Paul Cain was regarded as the founding father of the Kansas City Prophets movement, but he was repudiated publicly by Rick Joyner, Jack Deere and Mike Bickle for immorality:
"In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul [Cain] had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we became aware that Paul is a practicing homosexual. When confronted with the evidence of these sinful practices, Paul admitted to them and agreed to a process of restoration which the 3 of us would oversee. However, because Paul has continued to drink and pursue immoral practices, and after having exhausted the first 2 steps of the Matthew 18:15-17 process, we now have a responsibility to bring this before the church. . . .
"We also want to apologize to the body of Christ for our part in promoting and elevating Paul's stature in the church while having these significant strongholds in his life. The signs that these problems existed were abundant, and we had an obvious lack of discernment and failed to see them until this year. We have received a considerable education through this situation, the principles of which we will share in due time with the hope that others will not have to make our same mistakes."
Of course, not all modern-day prophets who purvey new revelations have become drunks or homosexuals or devoted themselves to ogling naked ladies. Have any of them solved the knotty problem of how to discern between true revelations and false ones?
Apparently not: Richard Foster, in his book "Celebration of Discipline," which promotes mysticism and new revelations, admits, "The fact that God speaks to us does not guarantee that we rightly understand the message. We often mix our word with God's word."
The problem of how to tell which new revelations are from God, and which are not, has never been solved by the Mormons, Charismatics, Mystics or any other group. The best way to handle the problem is to reject all new revelations, and to rely only on the Bible, which is God's complete and all-sufficient revelation of His will for mankind.
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it." - Deuteronomy 4:2.
"Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." - Proverbs 30:6.
"If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book." - Revelation 22:18.