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A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. -- Proverbs 25: 28 (ESV)
This is the second devotional dealing with the recent blog post series by Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Leader at Bethel Church. Vallotton has taken it upon himself to try and explain why they believe such wildly unbiblical heresies and follow such blatant false signs and lying wonders at Bethel. This church openly traffics in the demonic and has proven incapable of discerning what is of the Holy Spirit and what is of the demonic realm. They believe in experiential Christianity, which is to say that their personal experiences create their doctrine. The Bible? That's for suckers and those who are "religious." When you try and show them where the Bible says their beliefs are false, their usual response is that they know it is true because they have seen it. We know as believers however that while our eyes can always lie to us, the Word of God never will. Science even has a word for this. It is called scotomisation; the mind sees what it wants to see. Vallotton has already weighed in on such ridiculousness as gold dust and angel feather manifestations so now he has moved on to two other experiential heresies in Charismania; slain in the spirit and holy laughter:
The first thing we must notice is that Vallotton does not reference a single biblical verse to support his beliefs. Not one. That is because there is not a single Bible verse that supports either of these false manifestations. Let's start with the experience of being slain in the spirit. For the uninformed, this is when Christians fall backwards and lie on the ground, usually as a result of someone laying hands on them. The concept is that the Holy Spirit has "slain" them. That He has laid them out for the purposes of some form of deeper ministering to them. Most report that during the time they are "out" they felt closer to God or felt that He dealt with some issue they had been dealing with.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was once "slain in the spirit." At least that was what I thought happened at the time. I was saved in charismatic circles, so this experience was the norm at nearly every service. I remember the pastor praying over me and I remember going down. While many fake this experience, which even Vallotton is forced to admit, I can honestly say the experience was real. I felt God minister to me while I was down regarding the untimely death of someone close to me that had occurred recently. Years later however, as I grew in knowledge of the Word and discernment it became painfully obvious that this experience while widespread, is simply not biblical. This certainly presented a dilemma! I knew it had happened. I knew that I did not consciously fake it. When faced with having to decide between the Word of God and my personal experience, I chose the Word of God. In a moment of spiritual honesty and clarity I was forced to admit that while the experience was certainly real, it was probably more emotional than spiritual. Did God use it? I feel He did but that does not mean He orchestrated it. When Kris Vallotton is forced to confront his experience versus the Bible however, he sides with his experience.
"Could it be the devil? If it is the devil, he is doing a wonderful job of helping people get closer to God. In almost every case where people have been "slain in the Spirit" they report being more convinced than ever of God's love for them. This may all sound strange, but it's no stranger than many things that people experienced in the Bible. - Kris Vallotton
The defense of something strange by saying other strange things have happened in the Bible is intellectually dishonest. Not to mention most "strange things" in the Bible were "one offs." That is to say that they occurred once. Slain in the spirit has become central doctrine in Charismatic circles. Those who routinely experience it often view themselves as more spiritual than others. The reality is that it may be true but that does not mean it is of the Holy Spirit. His pandering here about asking if it could be of the devil misses the point. Once you cannot find it in scripture you must conclude it is of the devil. It is part of the narcissistic "showy" spirit that has infected much of modern Pentecostalism. Everything is "look at me!" Don't believe me? What other denominations allow people to randomly sputter incoherent sentence fragments at will under the guise of a heavenly language? How about dance ministries where people wear fluorescent clothes and flagging ministers all during corporate worship? What other churches allow individual congregants to bring tambourines or their own personal flags for worship? All of this only detracts and distracts from Jesus Christ under the guise of worshipping Him. It also must confound and confuse first time visitors. I remember once, someone I know posted a video they were very proud of. She and some church friends had set out to pray over a particular city. They were going to walk the streets and "claim it." The video however was showing that they never made it out of the parking lot. They were all laid out and slain on the ground. Rolling around, laughing uncontrollably. They referred to this as the Holy Spirit falling on them. What I saw was some confused Christians reveling in self indulgence. Why would the Holy Spirit direct you to pray for a city and then knock you out before you start? Answer is He wouldn't.
It should be noted here that Kris' defense assumes much. One of the largest parts of the heresies of Bill Johnson and Bethel church is the false gospel they believe in. Sin and repentance are ruled out. They are not preached nor discussed. Everything is about this false love paradigm. The problem is that without a serious discussion of sin and repentance then no one actually gets saved. Does God love us? Absolutely. So much so that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. To only speak of love in ooey gooey carnal terms is to miss the Gospel entirely and serve a false jesus and believe in a false gospel. God has warned us about this:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. -- Galatians 1: 6-9 (ESV)
The Bible says that it is entirely possible to believe in God but to do so in vain. To believe in a different gospel and follow a different Christ. That is what happens at Bethel Church. Their god shows up in glory clouds filled with gold dust and sprinkling angel feathers. Their god lays them out in parking lots for no particular reason. So when Vallotton concludes that the experience of slain in the spirit couldn't possibly be from the devil because it always brings the people closer to God one must ask, which God? They are further reinforced about the love paradigm they are being taught instead of sound biblical discernment.
The second phenomenon discussed by Kris is what is known as holy laughter. This gained prominence during the 1990's as part of the false revival in Toronto. The so-called "Toronto Blessing" was marked by church services where congregants rolled around on the floor laughing uncontrollably or even making animal noises. Despite the obvious demonic nature of such nonsense, the Toronto Blessing is still highly regarded at places such as Bethel Church because it was a forerunner of the current false signs and lying wonders theology they now embrace. We will let Vallotton define it:
This condition occurs when, for no obvious reason, people just begin to laugh hysterically as if they are drunk. Some laugh so hard that they literally fall on the ground. These people report being overcome by intense joy that can't be expressed with words. I have watched thousands of people all at once, overcome by this manifestation. It's fun to witness someone who is really serious encounter this experience. Again, I have never experienced this condition myself, but I have carried my wife out of several meetings when she was so "spiritually drunk" that she couldn't walk. -- Kris Vallotton
It is fun to witness this? No it is frightening. It is frightening to witness people so lacking in discernment that they would think something that never occurred during the 6000 years of recorded Scripture could ever be from God. The Bible warns us repeatedly not to be drunk. To be sober minded. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is self control yet they blame this uncontrollable laughter on the Holy Ghost. How utterly heretical. This has led to preachers claiming to be "Holy Spirit bartenders" or even getting "stoned in the spirit." There is no such thing beloved as being spiritually drunk in the Holy Spirit. I suppose demonically this is plausible. The more in tune one becomes with the Holy Spirit the more the Spirit will lead them into all truth contained in His Word. The Holy Spirit only glorifies Christ not our flesh. The truly sad part is Vallotton admits there is no obvious reason for it yet he still insists on believing it is from God.
This all brings us to our key verse for today. Beloved, God is a God or order. He is not the author of confusion or chaos. As previously mentioned, self control is actually one of the gifts of the spirit. That must lead us to conclude that a total lack of self control cannot therefore be from the Holy Spirit. What Kris Vallotton has described in this blog article are two manifestations that result in a complete abandonment of self control. In the first example, one loses complete control of their body as they are "slain." In the second one, they lose complete control of their mind, common sense and behavior as they become "drunk" to the point of not being able to stop laughing. None of it brings any glory to Christ whatsoever.
The key verse teaches us what this actually means for the individual however. There are two consequences for us to consider today. The first is that we become like a city that has already been broken into. We have already been violated spiritually when we allow such gross distortions and spiritual abuses into our lives. Hand in hand with this is that we are left without walls. We are left defenseless. This is what the sin of false teaching does. It infects and leaves one open to more false teachings. Without walls, the enemy just walks in. Is it any wonder then that those that fell for the Toronto madness also fell for the false Brownsville revival? Or then the Lakewood revival where Todd Bentley was kicking and punching people to impart healing? I saw Todd Bentley once pummel someone in the stomach that had stage four pancreatic cancer and claim it was directed by the Holy Spirit. The crowd should have walked out but instead they cheered him on because they were like a city without walls. Jesus taught that a little leaven leavens the whole batch. This is why Paul taught his protege Timothy to guard his life and his doctrine above all else.