For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit -- 1Corinthians 12:8 (ESV)
This past weekend saw a gathering of false prophets and teachers the likes of which are seldom seen. Lou Engle organized "The Send" in order to commission people to take his false gospel to the ends of the earth. The clip above is to the segment from Shawn Bolz, the resident false prophet of Bethel Church. Lingering on stage and in the background you can see Heidi Baker, Todd White and even Bill Johnson, just so you can an idea of the scope of heresy we are talking about. One of Bolz' favorite shticks is what he calls words of knowledge but in actuality it is just the same old psychic trick of cold reading. Bolz accesses a bit of identifying information about people in the crowd and then calls them out from the stage as if God is telling him their name. Then he "prophelies" over them with vague predictions of grandiosity mixed with other tidbits of identifying information usually garnered ahead of time. In the age of digital access to personal information and social media, you do not need a huge head start to find out something about someone. If someone can access your Facebook page? Yeah words of knowledge become much easier.
The key verse today mentions the word of knowledge gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the only verse that mentions this gift. So all we know about it is in this verse and the verses that explain the gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ and apportioned by the Holy Spirit as He wills. It is widely believed that a true word of knowledge is when God reveals to a person facts about someone they do not know so they can prove to them that God exists. My understanding then is this gift is used to convince unbelievers. A word of wisdom is used to illuminate scripture for a believer. Either way, Shawn pretends the initial knowledge of the name is the word of knowledge and then he sprinkles in other facts but he seems to do it all through his smart phone! In the above clips he acknowledges this critique but claims he is just reviewing his notes! Yes Shawn! That is our point! Let us review these two cold readings and see how the scam works.
"I'm looking for a Dennis either from the Ukraine or whose parents were from the Ukraine. You moved to America. I think either to Washington State or DC? Is there a Dennis? We have somebody! Thank God!" -- Shawn Bolz
Infamous huckster PT Barnum is credited with saying there is a sucker born every minute. This is phase one of Shawn Bolz Shtick. He draws his victims in by pretending that God has given him a word of knowledge. He gets these words however from his smart phone, while on stage, while calling out for Dennis. He tries to explain it by saying he is just looking at his notes but that's the entire point. If it is a word of knowledge how do you have notes? At best now it is a pre meditated word of knowledge he is claiming. Now we can go into the likelihood of there being a Dennis in a crowd of over 50,000 people or how Dennis is one of the top ten male names for Ukrainians but in all likelihood Shawn has notes because he researched Mr. Dennis way before he went on stage to "prophesy." You see everyone who attended The Send had to register prior. With a handful of identifying information it is actually quite easy to access all sorts of social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. Now that Shawn has reeled the sucker in, he prophelies:
"Dennis the Lord Himself has been walking with you since you were a little boy. And you have had a hard time there in the middle because of some of the things that have happened in your family but it is going to give you power over divorce and broken families and adoption and foster care. The Lord is saying He's raising you up. There's something you are supposed to build. I think you are on the West coast now but you will be on the East coast. He has put you on the highest lampstand." -- Shawn Bolz
Let's break this down beloved. The trick of fake psychic readings, tarot card readings, palm readings, and now Christian prophecy is to generalize things so that they would apply to most people in the normal course of life. You apply it to long periods of time and a level of vagueness so you always have an out. For example, you will never hear, "you were abused by your uncle Nathanial in 1994 but that will make you stronger as you continue to grow." Instead you will hear, "you have had a hard time there in the middle because of some of the things that have happened in your family." Hard time? Who doesn't have hard times and isn't family usually the most likely source? What does "in the middle mean?" This sentence is so vague it probably applies to all of our lives. Let's analyze line by line: