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Key Verses -- The Entire Bible
This is Part Two of a review of the new movie Holy Ghost Reborn, which was released by last week. We started reviewing this latest round of heresy from Darren Wilson earlier in the week. Without rehashing what was discussed there too much it is important to remember that the overarching point Wilson is trying to make in this movie series is that Christians need to embrace experiential Christianity over Biblical Christianity. That doctrine and religion are dirty words that box in what God really wants, which is this sloppy-agape, heart driven faith that we can simply make up along the way. This is not surprising since Wilson is an adherent of Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, who appears throughout this film and the original Holy Ghost movie from 2014. In the first portion of the review we covered only the first segment of the movie which had false prophet Todd White and Wilson travelling to Vatican City to randomly pray for people and use the footage they took to promote their message that religion is bad and this squishy experiential Jesus is good. We also went over why movies such as this are so dangerous. Because they introduce to people genuinely seeking after the Lord a false christ and a false holy spirit. With that backdrop, we continue with the review of this extremely dangerous movie.
The next segment is regarding a former alcoholic Muslim man named Ali. This man recounts the story of his conversion to Christianity. He says that he visited Mecca to pray even though he was not really a believer in the prayers he was saying. Apparently during the first overnight in Mecca, Ali had a dream in which Jesus Christ visited him. Jesus touched his forehead and said, "You are saved." Then He touched his chest and said, "You belong to me." Now let me say up front, I do not know exactly what happened in the life of Ali. I can only go by is what Darren Wilson was willing to portray and what he portrayed appears nowhere in Scripture. It does however appear in the overall teachings of Wilson, Johnson and those that follow this line of heresy. The narrative is always that God is furiously looking for us, pining away the days, just hoping that we will consider Him. As if He is a wallflower at an eighth grade prom. So I can watch the story of Ali and be happy that he came to Christ but be dubious about this story. To prove the story correct, Ali explains that where Jesus touched his chest in the dream went completely white in reality, to this day it remains, a decade later. Ali shows his chest at the end of the sequence and to be honest, it was very unremarkable. But even if it were pasty white like dried glue it would not change that Jesus does not go into the dreams of unbelievers and magically declare them to be saved. Salvation may not be difficult in terms of opportunity but it is not forced upon man. The closest examples of this in the Bible would be Saul of Tarsus being knocked off of his horse and Cornelius being visited in a dream while still unsaved. While the Bible does not specify the exact moment of conversion for Saul, most believe it would have been when he heard the Word of God given by Ananias. The example of Cornelius is even more obvious because he was not saved at the point of the dream but rather when he spoke with Peter. So maybe Ali has embellished his story to make it sound more spiritual but in doing so it has become unbiblical. Maybe Wilson embellished it through the medium of film to make it fit his narrative. Either way it is dangerous to suggest salvation is this whimsical or capricious and then offer a bogus supernatural sign as proof.
The next segment is a brief interlude with Banning Liebscher from Bethel Church and Jesus Culture fame. I only mention it because he tries to offer an olive branch to those who are concerned about the Bible and the teachings he endorses but in doing so revealed where his core error is. He said, "Your take on Scripture might be different than mine." No Banning, just no. There is only one correct interpretation of Scripture. There may be different applications to our lives but God is not double minded. He is not schizophrenic. One of the worst bible study methods ever is to ask someone what a verse means to them. The only thing that matters is what it means to God. Why He wrote it.
The next segment was much longer and far more egregious. Here we find two more "evangelists" heading to Greece. These are Robbie Dawkins and former NFL linebacker, Bryan Schwartz. This was eerily reminiscent of the first movie and the opening segment in Utah. Probably because it was nearly identical, only with different people playing the role of evangelist. The scene opens with Robbie declaring that there is nothing that takes the place of presence of God. Once again driving home the point of this movie. Experiential Christianity to be desired; doctrinal Christianity to be shunned. Then Robbie Dawkins offers up an absurd analogy. He says that he loves knowing everything about his wife but nothing compares to being in her presence. Yeah Robbie, but your wife did not create the entire universe. Your wife did not carefully write down for you the answer to every life question or situation you will ever face. Not to mention you are comparing intimacy with your wife to intimacy with God and I certainly hope you realize they are different. Jesus Himself laments why people bother calling Him Lord if they are not going to do what He has said.
So Robbie and Bryan set off to find someone to heal through prayer and film it. Strange that they did not head straight to a hospital ward or the nearest cancer clinic. I mean, if the purpose was to show off for God and make Him famous as Darren Wilson declared, why are they rummaging through a park in Greece after midnight? Why are they settling for a young, impressionable woman who claims to have some ailment where she has pain when she raises one of her arms? The very same ailments the other guys were seeking and settling for in Utah in the first Holy Ghost movie. I'll tell you why it is calculated and not happenstance. Who better to get an emotional response from then a young female? What better way to appear to have healed someone then to deal with some phantom pain through the power of suggestion? I related a story already of my friend who went up for healing from a traveling evangelist at my old church. He danced along the altar like his hip, which needed replacement surgery, was fully healed. Hallelujah! When the emotion of the moment and the power of suggestion wore off however, he still needed hip replacement surgery. Beloved this is not to say God cannot heal people. He does every single day and I have seen it. But the beliefs Wilson and Bill Johnson hold is that God MUST always heal you. This is a horrible twisting of Scripture that robs God of His sovereignty.
Back to the park bench. Robbie and Bryan ascertain that she has pain when she lifts one of her arms past her shoulder. They declare they are going to pray for healing and "Jesus is going to heal you right now." They go on to "rebuke the spirit of infirmity, command all pain to go, be healed now!" The arrogance is staggering beloved. Who is God in this story? Is it the Lord or the one who is commanding Him? Who in their right Christian mind would guarantee a healing before even praying? What if God said no? What Robbie and Bryan do not know is they have been taught very poorly to believe they have the authority of God and to speak for Him when they most assuredly do not. They sound like the sad seven sons of Sceva from the Book of Acts. Roaming around playing with demons they do not understand. Rebuking the spirit of infirmity? Commanding pain? Get over yourself. Nonetheless they ask the girl if her original pain was a 10, what she would rate it now. After some cajoling, she declares that it now is a five. You can see the girl wants to give the answer they are looking for because Robbie and Bryan seem so sincere in their desire to see her healed. They declare they will pray again so it gets to a zero rating. They go through the spiritual machinations again for this girl, laying hands, and rebuking and commanding things they have no power over. At the end she says the pain is at a rating of one. Undeterred they pray again and an exasperated girl finally in tears claims it is at zero. Heck I would too to get them to stop already! Throughout the prayers they refer to the girl as God's daughter, even though she is not. This displays more of the bad teaching they have received. We are all the creation of God. We are not all His children until we are born again. After the girl is a weeping mess and claims the pain is at zero, Robbie starts to "witness" to her.
"What you're feeling is God's presence. You know it's not about religion. It's about a relationship. His healing your shoulder was inviting you to a relationship with Him." - Robbie
"How do I do this?" -- Weeping Girl
"You just ask Jesus to come into my life. Be my Lord. I want to have a relationship with you. We can lead you in that prayer right now." -- Robbie and Bryan
"There's no one in the world who wouldn't want this." -- Weeping Girl
"Repeat after me, Father in the name of Jesus Christ I receive your grace and your love. I want a brand new heart. I want to be saved. I ask you right now. Jesus would you save me. Would you be the Lord of my life? Would you give me a new heart? And a new life? Take the old things away and make all things new." -- Bryan
The scene fades to Darren Wilson saying, "Miracles aren't logical and God isn't bound by our simple reason." No Darren but we are bound by the Bible and everything that was just shown in this scene was not the Gospel. First of all, why in the world would you tell an unbelieving Greek girl that it is not about religion but about relationship? Once again pushing the theme Wilson is trying to convey. He lays it on so thick though that it becomes painfully obvious that it is not an organic offshoot of the interactions but the calculated effort of the director. Robbie and Bryan's answer as to how have a relationship with God is frighteningly oblivious to Scripture. It is again presenting Christ as a wallflower hoping someone will ask Him to dance. It also takes salvation and makes it a work of man instead of a work of God. I may not believe in robotic Calvinism but I certainly do not believe that God is sitting around waiting for man to ask Him out. Next however is something truly amazing to me. So amazing I think it is the one God moment in this entire film and because Wilson clearly does not know Him, he missed it and kept it in the movie anyway. This entire conversation is held through a translator and the translation is provided in sub text. When this unsaved girl says there is no one in the world that wouldn't want this Robbie and Bryan smile in agreement but they seem to miss the emotion of the girl. She seems dumbfounded by the simplicity of their claims. She hears the offer, feels whatever healing she received and they try to tell her it costs her nothing and she isn't buying it! What she is saying is if this is true then everyone would be saved! And she is right! When you dumb down salvation to have no cost for the sinner then why wouldn't everyone rush to church and be saved? Bryan and Robbie may have missed it literally in the translation of the moment but Wilson did not even catch it during editing. The one God moment was when an unbeliever realized what they were selling her was simply too good to be true. Then they launch into the sinner's prayer and prove it.
What we see here in the prayer are the same glaring errors made across this country in churches every single week. The seeker friendly, purpose driven models of church growth allow no discussion of the cross, sin or repentance. Thus the sinner's prayer becomes this conglomeration of abstract Christianese that the person allegedly repenting could not possibly understand. I receive your grace? What the heck does that even mean? They have no discussion with this girl about the theological construct of grace. How does one "receive it" anyway? I want a brand new heart? What's wrong with the one I have? I am a good person. I care about people and never scare squirrels away. I want to be saved? From what exactly? How in the world can you lead someone to pray that they want to be saved having no discussion of sin? This is not evangelism beloved. It is a spiritual mugging. Give me all of your hope and faith and I won't even tell you what you are placing it in or why you need to. Lord of my life? Take what old things? This is simply brutal. No wonder the girl could not stop crying. The only miracle Darren was that you all thought you were doing something spiritual for this poor girl. We can only pray that she comes across someone who will share the whole Gospel with her that she might be led to true penitent salvation in Jesus Christ.
The other major segment I want to cover before closing is the "Restored Warrior" scene, where Wilson films an ex-Navy Seal who is attending a weekend Christian retreat for military seeking a spiritual healing for wounds and pain from their past. The majority of the scene is the leaders "praying" with Shannon, the ex-Seal who agreed to be filmed. I put praying in quotes because this was not prayer beloved. The technique they employed was visualization for healing with some Jesus thrown in to make it appear Christian. Visualization is used in the arts of Eastern Mysticism and has no place in Christianity or prayer. The Bible teaches us that we walk by faith and not sight as well as faith being the evidence of things not seen. Shannon explains that he lost his mother when he was very young and only remembers being told that he would stand in the corner crying for her to come home. His father was not in his life. Here is the exchange from the movie.
"Do you see yourself standing in that corner? Can you see it in your mind's eye?" -- Leader