Jeffrey M. Spencer
(This originally appeared in the Spring 1999 edition of the MCOI Journal) beginning on page 8)
The “Brownsville Revival” began at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida on Father’s Day (June 18, 1995) under the direction of Pastor John Kilpatrick and visiting Evangelist St eve Hill. From the very start, this movement has been overflowing with bizarre manifestations and uncontrollable behavior such as laughing, shaking, barking, roaring, and temporary paralysis. While supporters believe this IS a true move of God, critics are hesitant to make such a claim.
Many apologists have set out to expose this revival as false, centering their critique on the unusual phenomena exhibited in the services, I contend; however, these manifestations are not the primary problem. The primary problem with the Brownsville Revival is the false doctrine. Just as the presence of disease produces certain warning symptoms in the body, the false doctrine produces the revival manifestations —barking, roaring, shaking, etc. Thus, in order to approach the heart of the issue, the false doctrine must be exposed.
This article deals directly with Brownsville’s false teachings that depart from the Christian faith in points of vital importance. For instance, the Brownsville group preaches a false Jesus. They pass on a false spirit. They preach a false gospel. The Apostle Paul addressed a similar problem within the Corinthian church, warning them:
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it“(2Cor.11:4).
Many believers and seekers alike have “put up with it.” Not only have they erroneously embraced Brownsville as a true revival, but they also have received the false Jesus, passed on the false spirit, and believed the false gospel of the Brownsville teachers.
THE FALSE JESUS OF BROWNSVILLE
The evidence seems to indicate that the doctrine of Jesus taught by the revival teachers is, at the very least, problematic. Following is a presentation of what three men involved in the current revival movement teach about Jesus. To be sure, each man is not equally involved, but each is closely linked to the Brownsville Assembly of God. The three teachers are David Yonggi-Cho, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Brownsville Pastor John Kilpatrick.
A Word-Faith pastor from Korea, David Yonggi-Cho, is intimately affiliated with the Brownsville Revival.1For an example of the Christological heresies of the Word-Faith Movement, see Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis; Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991 Cho supposedly prophesied the revival in 1991. In fact, the leadership of the Brownsville Assembly of God has placed the story of Cho’s prophecy on the Brownsville website and mentioned the prophecy in a book by Kilpatrick.2John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens are Brass, xiv. The Brownsville Web-site is http://www.brownsville-revival.org>. Cho’s prophecy is found at http://www brownsville-revival.org/choprop.html, accessed 14 January 1998 By accepting the testimony and prophecy of Cho, Brownsville is, in effect, endorsing what he teaches. In his book, The Fourth Dimension, Cho claims about Jesus:
“There is a reason to use the power of the spoken word: through it you create and release the presence of Jesus Christ. Jesus is bound to what you speak forth. You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth. He is bound by your lips and your words.”3Paul Yongii-Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1979), 81-83. Dr. Cho was named Paul when he wrote this book. However, he claims that God later told him to change his name to David He also claims the doctrines in this book, which are undeniably occult, were taught to him by a spirit.
In short, Cho’s view of Jesus (which was spoken directly to him by a spirit) is derived from a pantheistic worldview that teaches God is all and all is God. Therefore, man (being one with the All) is divine and can create or change his own reality. If one wants something, then simply think or speak forth the reality-claiming words. This same teaching is found in witchcraft, occultism, and the New Age.4For an excellent discussion of the infiltration of this occultism into the church, see Dave Hunt. The Seduction of Christianity; Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 1985 It also is prevalent in the Word-Faith Movement which refers to it as “Name-it, Claim-it” health and prosperity teaching. In essence, this teaching has elevated man to the status of God and demoted Jesus to a mere errand boy summoned to accomplish our whims and fancies. This view of Jesus is heretical, and those who accept it and promote it accept and promote a false Jesus. There is no doubt Brownsville falls into this category.
Rodney Howard-Browne, another Word-Faith proponent, is the man responsible for the “Laughing Revival” of the Toronto Airport Vineyard. Subsequently, the revival was taken from Toronto Brownsville by the leadership of the Brownsville Assembly of God.5The fact the Brownsville Revival is a direct descendent of the Toronto Blessing (or the Laughing Revival) is incontestable. The staff at Brownsville readily admits the connection Brownsville has sent leadership from their church to Toronto many times. In a videotaped service I have, Kilpatrick admits to sending his wife to Toronto so she could learn how to minister “Toronto-style.” See Marcia Ford; Charisma Reports The Brownsville Revival; Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1997; 75-80. Rodney Howard-Browne teaches Jesus was not God while here on earth. In his book, The Touch of God, Howard-Browne says,
“Nothing Jesus did was because He was the Son of God. The Bible says He laid aside His royal robes of deity, and when He walked the earth, He did so as a prophet under the Abrahamic Covenant.”6Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 13-14
This statement—claiming Jesus laid aside His Deity while on earth—is a denial of the Deity of Christ, which is serious heresy. Thus, Howard-Browne, a man directly responsible for the current revival movement, also teaches a false Jesus.
Brownsville Pastor John Kilpatrick, in his book. When the Heavens Are Brass denies the Deity of Christ in a manner similar to Howard-Browne. Although in one place Kilpatrick affirms the full Deity of Christ, in other places he makes very confusing, and I submit, contradictory claims. Kilpatrick claims that Jesus,
“did not move in omnipotence on the earth.”7Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; While this is an ambiguous statement, other statements Kilpatrick makes in the same context show he means Jesus did not have certain divine characteristics when He came to earth
While this statement could be interpreted as meaning —though Jesus was omnipotent, He voluntarily did not use His omnipotence on earth—Kilpatrick does not mean it as such. Taken in the context of the chapter, this statement by Kilpatrick means Jesus did not have omnipotence. In other words, Jesus was not all-powerful when He was on earth. Next, Kilpatrick claims that Jesus,
“did not move in omniscience on earth. Had Jesus been omniscient, He would have known when He was coming back.”8Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; Emphasis mine
Now, Kilpatrick claims Jesus did not have omniscience. Finally, Kilpatrick strips Jesus of His Deity by claiming,
“Jesus was not omnipresent on earth … Jesus could be only in one place at a time because He was not omnipresent.”9Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; In all fairness to Kilpatrick, he does claim Jesus was divine, which is totally contradictory to the statements in the text above. At best, Kilpatrick’s statements are contradictory, and thus, by teaching unsound doctrine, he has disqualified himself as a church leader; cf. 1 Tim. 3:2 Titus 1:9
Thus, the Jesus of Kilpatrick, at the very least, is not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent.
There are several problems with such Christology. First, when Jesus took on flesh. He was 100% God and 100% man. The Incarnation did not subtract from His Deity but added a human nature to the Divine Being. The infinite, eternal, unchanging Divine Person, without changing or giving up any attribute, took on a new nature —a human nature. Thus, Jesus has two undiminished natures in one Person. He did not become less than God as Kilpatrick and Howard-Browne suggest. Second, Jesus did not give up any of His divine attributes. The subtraction of even one divine attribute would mean that Jesus was not God because the attributes of God,
“are essential characteristics of His being. Without these qualities God would not be what He is—God”10Walter Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology ;Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House. 1984; 451
In other words, God minus even one attribute equals non-God. Apologist Dr. Norman Geisler explains that,
“God is by his very nature an absolutely perfect being If there were any perfection that he lacked, then he would not be God.”11Norman Geisler, Creating God in the Image of Man?; Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997; 28
Third, Jesus did not give up attributes but submitted to a voluntary non-use of His divine attributes while on earth. He did, however, display His divine attributes at times.
It is incontestable that Brownsville’s leadership has serious Christological problems. From the pantheistic Jesus of David Yonggi-Cho (the man who prophesied the revival), to the merely human Jesus of Rodney Howard-Browne (the man who started the revival), to the confusing statements of Pastor Kilpatrick (the man who sustains the revival) the Brownsville Revival is preaching a false Jesus. Therefore, this revival cannot be a move of God. As apologist, Dr. Ron Rhodes has correctly stated,
A counterfeit Jesus who preaches a counterfeit gospel yields only a counterfeit salvation.”12Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons ;Eugene. OR Harvest House Publishers, 1995; 291
THE FALSE SPIRIT OF BROWNSVILLE
The Brownsville devotees not only preach a false Jesus, but they also impart a “different spirit” rather than the Holy Spirit. The spirit of Brownsville is localized, transferable, and imparted through various occult techniques. Furthermore, it causes un-Christ-like behavior such as barking, roaring, vomiting, shaking, and paralysis.
The spirit is localized and transferable.
The spirit of this revival is contained in one place—Brownsville. Therefore, in order to encounter this spirit, one must visit the “power center” where the spirit operates. To receive the spirit of Brownsville, one must go to Brownsville. Thus, Brownsville Evangelist Steve Hill can be heard touting the “value of a pilgrimage”13Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival; Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 105 in order to “receive a fresh touch from God.” In other words, one must travel to the power center where the spirit is manifesting if an impartation of the spirit is desired.
The spirit does not necessarily remain localized. Once one visits the power center and receives the spirit, one can take that spirit back to his own congregation and start another power center. Hill claims,
People from all over the world have been touched by God’s Spirit, either as they come to worship with us or as they visit others who have been here.”14Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival; Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 104
Thus, the spirit is passed on exponentially from Hill to seekers and from seekers to those in their home churches, much like one candle lights a second, then the second one lights a third, and soon. The point is: You cannot receive this spirit unless someone who has it gives it to you.
In contrast, the Holy Spirit of the Bible is omnipresent (everywhere present). Moreover, He is all-powerful everywhere. In other words, the Holy Spirit is omnipotently omnipresent and omnipresently omnipotent. Surely, by claiming the power is localized, Brownsville denies both the omnipresence and omnipotence of the Holy Spirit. The notion the Spirit is more powerfully located in one place (and, thus, only can be encountered by pilgrimage) is thoroughly occultic. One can meet the Holy Spirit anywhere at all in Bible study and prayer. One need not visit a ‘power center” in order to encounter the Holy Spirit. Finally, the Holy Spirit is not invoked by means of a pilgrimage but sovereignly indwells a person the moment a person believes the Gospel. God is the Divine Person we encounter through a loving relationship. He is not a spiritual entity we invoke through various deeds of worship (cf.1Kings18:17-40).
The Spirit Is Received Through Various “Techniques.”
The spirit of Brownsville is transmitted by various techniques such as touch, repetition of words, or turning off the mind (meditation).
One technique for imparting the Brownsville spirit is touch. This differs from the biblical practice of laying on of hands to impart the Spirit because only the Apostles had such ability. 15For a good discussion of Apostolic authority, see John MacArthur. Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids. MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1992), 120ff That was one of the ways God showed new believers the Apostles were the chosen leaders of the Church. Common believers did not engage in this activity. Yet, night after night, Brownsville leaders touch seekers to impart bizarre manifestations. Steve Hill enthusiastically moves from seeker to seeker touching forehead after forehead. The result is always the same—the spirit is imparted, causing seekers to shake, laugh, roar, collapse, etc. There is absolutely no biblical basis for this practice, yet it is very common in occult practice.
This technique (touching to impart power) finds no support in Scripture. Touching in order to impart a spirit, however, is very common in occult practice. For instance, Swami Baba Muktananda imparted “guru’s grace” to followers through touching their foreheads. This is a Kundalini Yoga technique called “Shakti pat,” which produces various “physical and emotional awakenings” such as “laughing, roaring, barking, hissing, crying, shaking, etc.” 16Warren Smith and Danny Aguirre. “Some Examples of Holy Laughter in Other Religions,” SCP Newsletter 19. no.2; Fall 1994; 14 Guru Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, a Kundalini expert, says of Shakti pat.
“Another technique of great importance is Shakti pat, the transmission of energy. A powerful yogi can transmit energy to an aspirant and awaken the Kundalini [power in one’s body]. This is accomplished in one of four ways: by touch, gaze, sound or thought. The yogi may touch the disciple and transmit energy through physical contact, or gaze at the disciple and energy flows from the yogi’s eyes. The yogi may utter words which carry energy or more subtly, energy can be transferred directly by the yogi’s thought or will.”17Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandaji The Path of Kundalini Maha Yoga On-line article, http://www.dyc.org/path/index.html#Shaktipat ,accessed 14 January 1998
Surprisingly, this occult transmission of power from the leader to the disciple, so popular in non-Christian religions, is being emulated and embraced by the Christian community.
Another technique employed by Brownsville leaders to impart the spirit is the repetition of words. This causes a spirit to be passed from those who have it to those who want it. This is a Hindu technique called “mantra.” According to Harper’s Dictionary of Hinduism,
“The mantra is a formula comprising words and sounds which possess magical or divine power” 18Margaret and James Stutley Harper’s Dictionary of Hinduism: Its Mythology. Folklore, Philosophy Literature and History; New York, NY Harper & Row, 1977; 180
A person simply repeats a word or phrase over and over to bring about a desired spiritual effect. This is very common in eastern religions and the New Age.
Shockingly, Steve Hill describes his salvation in terms of a mantra. In his testimony, Hill claims during a low point in his life; he was visited by a Lutheran minister.
“The Lutheran Vicar who led me to the Lord did not share with me the four spiritual laws (although I thank God for them). He did not share with me the Roman road to salvation’ (and I thank God for those too). That man didn’t even explain the cross to me He just came into my bedroom and said, Steve, just say the name ‘Jesus.’ When I said, ‘I don’t know how to pray’ he replied, That’s fine. You don’t have to pray. Just say the name ‘Jesus.'”19Steve Hill, The God Makers; Shippensburg, PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 62-63
The minister never presented the Gospel but merely told Hill (then an atheist) that he must repeatedly say the name “Jesus” in order to be delivered from his degenerate lifestyle. Hill complied,
“The sound of that name again and again seemed to bring hope from nowhere The confusion and fear faded slowly as I looked to the ceiling and began to utter, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” A peace, a warmth such as I never felt before, flooded my body. This power rushed in like a river and took command of everything. I kept crying out His name, louder and louder: (“Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”) The more I said it, the greater was my deliverance.” 20Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival (Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997), 30, This same story was also told when Steve Hill appeared on the television news program, 20/20
In short, atheist Hill uttered “Jesus” repeatedly and consequently was overcome by a spiritual power. What is the problem here? The experience Hill described is not Christian salvation for several reasons. First, Hill’s testimony does not correspond with biblical testimony of how one must be saved. The Bible claims that one is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. However, Hill was “saved” through the spoken repetition of a name. Which “Jesus” was the Lutheran minister advocating? Certainly not the Jesus of the Bible. He is not magically summoned through the repetition of a word but received through believing the Gospel. Second, by Hill’s own admission, the Gospel was never presented! The Lutheran minister never presented evidence for the existence of God, nor did he even mention the work of Christ on the cross. The preacher only instructed Hill to speak Jesus’ name — that would bring about a changed life. There was nothing mentioned about putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In fact, when this took place, Hill did not even believe in God! Third, Hill’s experience (the use of a mantra) is widespread throughout Hinduism, occultism, and the New Age. Yet, this is exactly how Hill describes his conversion! He repeated words and was overcome by power. Unless salvation can occur apart from believing the true Gospel and apart from the true Jesus Christ, Steve Hill cannot be saved. According to his own testimony, he was not presented with the Gospel, nor was he presented with the facts about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Hill is using the mantra technique, repeating “More, Lord!” and “Fire! Fire! Fire!” to pass on the spirit at Brownsville. For instance, Brownsville’s altar call prayer team is instructed to impart the spirit only through touch and repetition of words. Dr. Herb Babcock, a former prayer team member recounts,
“While on the prayer team, we were instructed to NOT pray in Jesus’ name. We were told to NOT pray for the needs of people. The only thing we were to do was touch people on their forehead and say, ‘More, Lord!’ and keep repeating that until there was an impartation’ of the spirit being promoted in these meetings. If the person did not respond in a reasonable time, move on to someone else. Any deviation from the limited procedure would result in being removed from the prayer team, which did happen to a few individuals.”21Dr. Herb Babcock, “That’s How They Do It In Toronto!” The End-Times and Victorious Living. 11, no 2; March/April 1997; 18
Dr. Babcock separated from the Brownsville Assembly of God over this issue. To forbid prayer in the name of Jesus is anti-Christian, as is the practice of imparting spirits through occult techniques.
Additionally, any words will suffice as mantras — even “Christian” words such as “Jesus” or “Lord.” One occultist, Michael Balarama of the Bhaktivedanta Meditation Society, advises the use of a number of mantras, saying,
“You can choose one that appeals to you. They are all, effective. The Vedas say there is no need of understanding the language of the mantra, nor is there any need of mental speculation, nor intellectual adjustment”22Michael Balarama, “Bhaktivedanta Meditation,” On-line, Mantra Meditation Society, accessed 14 January 1998
Remarkably, two of the mantras recommended by Balarama are,
“Lord Jesus have mercy upon us,” and “Hail Mary mother of grace, blessed is thy name and the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”23Michael Balarama, “Bhakti Vedanta Meditation,” On-line, Mantra Meditation Society, accessed 14 January 1998
Thus, in order to conjure the magical effect of a mantra, even “Christian” words such as “More, Lord!” and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” will work. This is confirmed by the fact that even occultists and pantheists use the name of Jesus as a mantra. Hence, even if the name “Jesus” is used as a mantra, that does not make it “Christian.” Any use of a mantra is occultism. By repeating the words “More, Lord!” or “Fire!” with the intent of imparting power, Steve Hill has unequivocally departed from the teachings of the Historic Christian Faith and is practicing full-blown occultism.
Another technique used to pass on the spirit of Brownsville is to lead the congregation to turn off their minds and succumb to an altered state of hypnotic meditation. The Brownsville requiem is “Turn off your mind and let the Spirit do what He pleases!” Rodney Howard-Browne instructs his audience to “tune out,” saying,
“You can’t understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. The only way you’re going to understand what God is doing is with your hearts.”24Larry Thomas, No Laughing Matter; Excelsior Springs, MO: Double Crown, 1995; 48
In other words, “Don’t think. Turn your mind off and let God take control!”
Thus, Brownsville instructs a seeker to clear one’s mind in order to conjure the spirit. The mind is the enemy of true spirituality. Steve Hill instructs the crowd at Brownsville,
“Now, let yourselves go. Don’t even think about what you are doing. Forget about those around you and what they are doing. Release your mind. Release your spirit and let the mighty river of the Holy Ghost take you wherever He wants you to go.”25Jimmy Robbins, “Pensacola Experiences.” The End-Times and Victorious Living 11, no. 2; March/April 1997, 16
Notice the similarity of Hill’s command to the commands of several New Age/Hindu teachers,
- Withdraw your mind from all created things (thinking about no thing). Such withdrawal of the mind is not the same as simply becoming unconscious; because there is a new focus of awareness…your mind will eventually become naturally quiet and still.26Deb Piatt, Mysticism in World Religions, http://www.-digiserve.com/mystic/, accessed 14 January 1998
- You must achieve elimination of the mind, which is the arch obstacle in the spiritual path.27Samuel Sandweiss, Sai Baba The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist ; San Diego, CA: Birth Day, 1975; 206
- Do not listen to your mind [but… to my voice. . .] Give [your minds] to me . . . but it must be a complete handing over; no reservations; the mind is the source of delusion.28Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Speaks; Bangalore, India: Sri Sathya Sai Publication and Education Foundation, n.d.; Vol 4, p 15, and Vol. 7, p. 50
In contrast, Christians are commanded to think. The God of the Bible demands His followers to “love the LORD your God with all your… mind” (Matt… 22:37). God, the ultimate rational Being, desires His people to be rational beings. To turn off the mind for even a moment or to fail to use it to the best of your ability at all times is disobedience to God. The mind is an essential ingredient of the Christian life. The mind is the main battleground of spiritual warfare, and Christians grow in Christ-likeness primarily through discipling the mind. The Apostle Paul commands the church to
“be transformed by the renewing of your mind ..”(Rom .12:1 -2).
Truly, without our minds, we cannot discern truth from error. This is precisely why so many errors—a false Jesus, a false spirit, and a false Gospel—are being accepted by revival attendees. Brownsville says,”Out with the mind!” but Christianity says, “Transform your mind!”
The Spirit Causes Un-Christlike Behavior.
The spirit imparted at Brownsville causes behavior such as shaking, roaring, barking, and paralysis. In an article about the current revival phenomenon, Diana Doucet claims the manifestation is,
“a transferable anointing. In its most visible form it overcomes worshippers with outbreaks of laughter, weeping, groaning, shaking, falling, drunkenness, and most recently, even sounds and behaviors described as a ‘cross between a jungle and a farmyard’.”29Diana Doucet, “Toronto God’s Meeting Place.” Spread the Fire Volume 1. no.1; Jan.-Feb 1995, 4
Contrast this behavior to the behavior produced by the Holy Spirit in a believer. The Holy Spirit will produce the “fruit” described in Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-controI”
The Holy Spirit will also empower believers to employ spiritual gifts such as giving, mercy, teaching, service, and evangelism in order to minister to those in need. The Holy Spirit leads a believer to be others-centered, while the spirit imparted at Brownsville leads the seeker to be self-centered. In other words, the Holy Spirit leads believers to minister to the needs of others, while the spirit of Brownsville leads seekers to pursue increasingly intense and bizarre experiences for themselves. There is a dire contrast between true Christian spirituality and the out-of-control behavior of Brownsville.
In summation: the leaders of Brownsville are using techniques from non-Christian religions to invoke and impart spirits to revival attendees. Whether by touch, mantra, or hypnotic meditation. Brownsville leaders are unquestionably practicing occultism and, in their ignorance, giving those occult practices Christian labels (i.e., mantra = persistent prayer; emptying the mind = letting God take over, invoked spirit = Holy Spirit). To be sure, revival leaders are invoking a power that yields desired results—lives are changed. Yet, because the doctrine is false, the power imparting the results cannot be the Holy Spirit but ultimately is Satan himself, who will gladly give someone a mystical experience and a changed life in order to keep one away from the truth. Notice the resemblance between occult practice30Kurt Keutzer, “Kundalini Frequently Asked Questions” and “Siddha Mahayoga Frequently Asked Questions,” http://www.execpc.com/-libra/kund/kundalini-faq.html accessed 14 January 1998 and the revival.
THE FALSE GOSPEL OF BROWNSVILLE
The Brownsville Revival is fueled by the preaching of a faith-plus-works gospel. Ultimately, the factor that determines one’s standing before God is how one lives instead of one’s faith in Christ. In order to have eternal life, Brownsville claims one must: 1) turn from sins, repent, and clean up one’s life; 2) make a public confession of faith; 3) live a holy life from that day forward; and 4) be baptized in water to cleanse one’s sins. The following is an analysis of the “good news” preached by the Brownsville Assembly of God.
To Be Saved, Clean Up Your Life.
The gospel, according to Brownsville, claims a person must give up all sin in his life to be saved. Then and only then will Jesus consider saving that person. Steve Hill lays out many conditions for salvation, but his basic message is this:
“God wants to set you free but you have to do your part.” 31Steve Hill, White Cane Religion (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 21
And your part is to clean up your life. For instance, in his sermon, “The Silence of God,” Hill states,
“There is also a pardon for you, but only after you confess, repent, and submit your life to Him.”32Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997;, 93
In another sermon, “The Rebel’s Reward.” Hill further preaches his clean-up-your-life-Gospel as he says,
“If you don’t repent of your rebellion, if you fail to obey God and get right with Him, then your wicked heart won’t be cleansed “33Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 80
Furthermore, in his sermon, “The Violence of Revival,” Hill adds,
“Since Jesus did His part, you must wage violent warfare against sin. If you want Jesus Christ to touch you and forgive you today, then you had better get violent about it. Get up and shake the devil off your lap.”34Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 159
Pastor John Kilpatrick also denotes similar life-cleansing requirements for salvation,
“Even harlots, thieves, backsliders, and little children can release Heaven’s incredible power by repenting, obeying, and submitting to God.”35Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 138-39. Notice the works-salvation mindset of the Brownsville teachers. A person must do something in order to invoke the blessing of God. If a person will do such-and-such, then God will save. This is very different from the biblical doctrine of salvation that presents eternal life as a free gift to those who simply trust in Christ.
Thus, according to Brownsville, one must do his part by confessing, repenting, submitting, obeying, shaking the devil off, and getting violent about sin. Only then will Jesus “do His part” and save the person. This is very different from the “gift of God” found in Ephesians 2:8-9.
To Be Saved, Make a Public Confession of Faith
Brownsville preaches that salvation is genuine only if there is a public confession of faith. Hill claims that one of the many steps to salvation is,
“Confess Him publicly as our Lord and Savior.”36Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 45
In his sermon “Counterfeit Conversion,” Steve Hill states this very plainly,
“I believe people need to come to Jesus Christ the same way he died for them on the cross—publicly, boldly, and in front of everybody. It has to be real. Anything less is going to be counterfeit.”37Steve Hill, White Cane Religion. 37
Thus, if one does not make a bold, public confession of faith when he cleans up his life, the conversion is counterfeit!
To Be Saved, Live a Holy Life Until the End.
Not only must one turn from all sin and respond publicly to be saved, but the person must also live a sinless life until he dies if he wants to go to heaven. In fact, Brownsville maintains that if a person who claims to be a Christian has any sin in his life, he cannot be a real Christian.
In contrast, l John 1:8 states,
“If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
In a recent sermon on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion in Montgomery, Alabama, Steve Hill yelled,
“If there is sin in your life and you are calling yourself a Christian, change your name! You are a heathen—at best a backslider!”38Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 143
Consequently, the presence of sin means the absence of salvation. Brownsville Evangelist Dick Reuben illustrates,
“We [at Brownsville] don’t differentiate between those that have never received Jesus and those who are backslidden, because, you see, there’s no difference between a backslider and one who’s never known Jesus. They’re both sinners on the way to hell. If you don’t think you can backslide and miss heaven, then you didn’t read the same book I’ve read.”39Dick Reuben Brownsville Assembly of God Evangelist, 11/21/97; audiotape
Kilpatrick teaches the same thing,
“I’m not so sure that everyone who is in the Body of Christ will be in the Bride of Christ!”40John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 71.
In fact, Kilpatrick claims that,
“The Lord said to me when I was in prayer, ‘Not everyone who is in My Body will be in My Bride'”41John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 71; Like Cho, Kilpatrick receives “new revelation” from spirits while in prayer It goes without saying that if the doctrine is false, then the spirit giving the revelation is not the Spirit of God. Moreover, the practice of receiving new revelation is very problematic because it reduces the Bible to merely a part of God’s Word. Orthodox Christianity claims that the Bible is God’s full and final special revelation to man. A common characteristic of cults, however, is the reception and use of revelation other than the Bible
Thus, the factor that determines whether or not one goes to heaven is how one behaves . . . not one’s trust in Jesus. According to Brownsville, there are those who have believed the Gospel who will never see heaven because they misbehave and allow sin into their life. Heaven is only for those with clean lives. Sinful behavior separates one from God forever. This is entirely different from the Gospel of the God of the Bible, who declares that,
“neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Eternal life is a free gift, and it is exactly that—eternal. We did no work to receive eternal life, and we can do nothing to lose it.
To Be Saved, Be Baptized For the Forgiveness of Sins.
Steve Hill believes,
“transformation . . . comes as a result of water baptism.”42Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 113
Remarkably, in the chapter about water baptism in The Pursuit of Revival, Steve Hill clearly declares that cleansing of sin comes through water baptism. Hill claims:
“When an individual encounters the living God, like Paul did on the road to Damascus, he or she is changed in no small way. And the lives of those around him are affected as well, especially by the cleansing of sin that comes through baptism.”43Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 122.
Thus, Brownsville teaches that unless one is baptized, one cannot be cleansed of sin. The Bible, though, declares the cleansing of sin comes from the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Matt. 26:28; l Jn. 1:7).
A Brief Response to the Brownsville Gospel.
If the gospel of Brownsville is true, then salvation by faith alone in Christ alone is false. Brownsville leaders are teaching a works-centered gospel that is little more than a contract between a man and God in which man promises to behave, and then God fulfills His promise to save the man. This is very different from the biblical teaching on salvation. The overwhelming testimony of the Bible points to the fact that, for a person to be saved, he must simply believe (or trust) in Jesus. Jesus did the work for salvation on the cross, and we simply trust in Him (John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47, 20:31; 1 John 5:1). Salvation is a free gift (Rev. 22:17), not a contractual obligation.
Must a person fulfill all the Brownsville requirements in order to be saved? Absolutely not! In fact, if a person tries to do works in order to beseech the favor of God,
…Christ will profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2).
In other words, those who work for salvation do not receive salvation. Ephesians 2:89 emphatically states,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Thus, we have no need to “get violent” about our sin in order that we might be saved because Jesus got violent about sin in order that the world might be saved. He was tortured, crucified, and died on a criminal’s cross, thereby providing an atonement for our sin. We must simply trust in Him as the atonement for our sin. Since He dealt with our sin “once-for-all,” we do not “deal” with our sin in order to be saved—whether it be by confession, repentance, obedience, lifestyle, or baptism—we simply trust Jesus. Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross, and to imply we need to clean up our act or repent of sin in order to be saved is to deny the sufficiency of the atonement for sin that Christ made on the cross!
The gospel, according to Brownsville, is a false gospel, and a false gospel yields a false salvation. Therefore, even though Brownsville claims 138,000 souls have been saved, this claim must be categorically rejected on the basis that the 138,000 people have not responded to the true Gospel, the true Spirit, or the true Jesus. They have responded to a false Jesus, a false spirit, and a false gospel—something that Scripture warns about over and over again (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:4; Matt. 24:23-24, 2 Pet. 2:1). Tragically; people will spend eternity separated from God because of the revival being held night after night in Brownsville, Florida. Not only that, true believers are being swept up in the Brownsville phenomenon leading them into apostasy from the faith.
CONCLUSION: BROWNSVILLE—APOSTASY FROM THE FAITH
Many revival supporters claim Brownsville is the spark that will ignite a great end-times revival. Yet, the Bible does not speak of end-times revival but of a great end-times apostasy of believers. I Timothy 4:1 says,
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Furthermore, speaking of the last days, Paul states,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4)
The unequivocal testimony of Scripture is that there will be a great apostasy among true believers. Could this revival movement be the end-times apostasy Scripture describes? I believe it very well could be.
The end-times apostasy of believers occurs because of a great satanic deception among believers. What would such a deception look like? It certainly will not be something very obvious. Satan is not going to waltz into the church on Sunday morning and say, “OK, everybody! Listen up! I’m Satan, and this is the great apostasy, so get in line and follow me!” No. His end-time deception will be through a subtle twisting of biblical Christianity—mixing biblical truth with demonic error. So close is this mixture, in fact, that many believe it to be biblical Christianity and fall away from the true faith. Thus, many believers will be deceived and led away from the faith through false doctrine—a subtly different Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel. Consequently, because of Satan’s disguise as an “angel of light” and his ministers* disguise as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14-15), everything they do looks and sounds very Christian. In other words, the great apostasy from the faith will be orchestrated by ministers who, on the surface, appear righteous and godly. Their teaching will be so close to true biblical Christianity that many will follow the false “angel of light” and the false “ministers of righteousness” away from the true Jesus, the true Spirit, and the true Gospel. This type of deception is what I believe is going on in Brownsville. As I have established above, Brownsville is indeed preaching another Jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel than orthodox Christianity, and true believers are falling for the lies and near-truths which seem so close to Christian truth. Yet, the difference is subtle enough to deceive many believers. As Charles Colson has pointed out:
“I have spoken of frontal assaults and the sneak attacks. There is something worse … The enemy is in our midst. He has so infiltrated our camp that many simply no longer can tell an enemy from a friend, truth from heresy.”44Charles Colson, The Struggle For Men’s Hearts and Minds;Prison Fellowship, 1983; 16
So, beware. True Christianity is under attack. Stand firm in sound doctrine. Test all things to see if they are biblical (1 Thess. 5:21) and, if not, defend the Faith (Jude 3). Follow Peter’s decree and
“sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15).
You could very well be the instrument Christ uses to snatch deceived believers from the gates of death (James 5:19-20).
In this article, I have attempted to show how the Brownsville Revival is fueled by false doctrine. If the essential doctrine is false, then the whole movement is necessarily false. God does not work through a false Jesus, a false spirit, and a false gospel; if He did, He wouldn’t have warned us about the dangers of false Christs and false gospels over and again. However, there is a sense in which God is working in Brownsville. His work can be seen in the testimonies of the many former Brownsville members who have left that church because of its false doctrine … a group that is steadily growing in number.
It has been said that,
“Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”45Blaise Pascal, Pensees. http://members.aol.com/ KatharenaE/private/Philo/Pascal/pascal.html, accessed 14 January 1998
And love the truth we must … or else. This new counterfeit form of Christianity, complete with its counterfeit Prince of Peace, is poised at the door, knocking. And many are welcoming him with open arms.Ω
Jeff is the Associate Pastor at Maranatha Bible Church in Salisbury, NC. He earned his BA in Biblical Studies (Cum Laude, 1995) from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, MS and a Master of Divinity in Apologetics (Summa Cum Laude, 1998) from Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Jeff also served on the research team which updated and revised Josh McDowell’s classic Evidence That Demands a Verdict. He and his wife Sherry have been married for seven years and have two children.
© 2015, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.
|↑1||For an example of the Christological heresies of the Word-Faith Movement, see Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis; Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991|
|↑2||John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens are Brass, xiv. The Brownsville Web-site is http://www.brownsville-revival.org>. Cho’s prophecy is found at http://www brownsville-revival.org/choprop.html, accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑3||Paul Yongii-Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1979), 81-83. Dr. Cho was named Paul when he wrote this book. However, he claims that God later told him to change his name to David He also claims the doctrines in this book, which are undeniably occult, were taught to him by a spirit.|
|↑4||For an excellent discussion of the infiltration of this occultism into the church, see Dave Hunt. The Seduction of Christianity; Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 1985|
|↑5||The fact the Brownsville Revival is a direct descendent of the Toronto Blessing (or the Laughing Revival) is incontestable. The staff at Brownsville readily admits the connection Brownsville has sent leadership from their church to Toronto many times. In a videotaped service I have, Kilpatrick admits to sending his wife to Toronto so she could learn how to minister “Toronto-style.” See Marcia Ford; Charisma Reports The Brownsville Revival; Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1997; 75-80.|
|↑6||Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 13-14|
|↑7||Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; While this is an ambiguous statement, other statements Kilpatrick makes in the same context show he means Jesus did not have certain divine characteristics when He came to earth|
|↑8||Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; Emphasis mine|
|↑9||Rodney Howard-Browne, The Touch of God, 20; In all fairness to Kilpatrick, he does claim Jesus was divine, which is totally contradictory to the statements in the text above. At best, Kilpatrick’s statements are contradictory, and thus, by teaching unsound doctrine, he has disqualified himself as a church leader; cf. 1 Tim. 3:2 Titus 1:9|
|↑10||Walter Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology ;Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House. 1984; 451|
|↑11||Norman Geisler, Creating God in the Image of Man?; Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997; 28|
|↑12||Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Mormons ;Eugene. OR Harvest House Publishers, 1995; 291|
|↑13||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival; Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 105|
|↑14||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival; Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 104|
|↑15||For a good discussion of Apostolic authority, see John MacArthur. Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids. MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1992), 120ff|
|↑16||Warren Smith and Danny Aguirre. “Some Examples of Holy Laughter in Other Religions,” SCP Newsletter 19. no.2; Fall 1994; 14|
|↑17||Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandaji The Path of Kundalini Maha Yoga On-line article, http://www.dyc.org/path/index.html#Shaktipat ,accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑18||Margaret and James Stutley Harper’s Dictionary of Hinduism: Its Mythology. Folklore, Philosophy Literature and History; New York, NY Harper & Row, 1977; 180|
|↑19||Steve Hill, The God Makers; Shippensburg, PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997; 62-63|
|↑20||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival (Shippensburg. PA Destiny Image Publishers, 1997), 30, This same story was also told when Steve Hill appeared on the television news program, 20/20|
|↑21||Dr. Herb Babcock, “That’s How They Do It In Toronto!” The End-Times and Victorious Living. 11, no 2; March/April 1997; 18|
|↑22||Michael Balarama, “Bhaktivedanta Meditation,” On-line, Mantra Meditation Society, accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑23||Michael Balarama, “Bhakti Vedanta Meditation,” On-line, Mantra Meditation Society, accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑24||Larry Thomas, No Laughing Matter; Excelsior Springs, MO: Double Crown, 1995; 48|
|↑25||Jimmy Robbins, “Pensacola Experiences.” The End-Times and Victorious Living 11, no. 2; March/April 1997, 16|
|↑26||Deb Piatt, Mysticism in World Religions, http://www.-digiserve.com/mystic/, accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑27||Samuel Sandweiss, Sai Baba The Holy Man and the Psychiatrist ; San Diego, CA: Birth Day, 1975; 206|
|↑28||Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Speaks; Bangalore, India: Sri Sathya Sai Publication and Education Foundation, n.d.; Vol 4, p 15, and Vol. 7, p. 50|
|↑29||Diana Doucet, “Toronto God’s Meeting Place.” Spread the Fire Volume 1. no.1; Jan.-Feb 1995, 4|
|↑30||Kurt Keutzer, “Kundalini Frequently Asked Questions” and “Siddha Mahayoga Frequently Asked Questions,” http://www.execpc.com/-libra/kund/kundalini-faq.html accessed 14 January 1998|
|↑31||Steve Hill, White Cane Religion (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 21|
|↑32||Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997;, 93|
|↑33||Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 80|
|↑34||Steve Hill, White Cane Religion; Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. 1997; 159|
|↑35||Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 138-39. Notice the works-salvation mindset of the Brownsville teachers. A person must do something in order to invoke the blessing of God. If a person will do such-and-such, then God will save. This is very different from the biblical doctrine of salvation that presents eternal life as a free gift to those who simply trust in Christ.|
|↑36||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 45|
|↑37||Steve Hill, White Cane Religion. 37|
|↑38||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 143|
|↑39||Dick Reuben Brownsville Assembly of God Evangelist, 11/21/97; audiotape|
|↑40||John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 71.|
|↑41||John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass, 71; Like Cho, Kilpatrick receives “new revelation” from spirits while in prayer It goes without saying that if the doctrine is false, then the spirit giving the revelation is not the Spirit of God. Moreover, the practice of receiving new revelation is very problematic because it reduces the Bible to merely a part of God’s Word. Orthodox Christianity claims that the Bible is God’s full and final special revelation to man. A common characteristic of cults, however, is the reception and use of revelation other than the Bible|
|↑42||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 113|
|↑43||Steve Hill, The Pursuit of Revival, 122.|
|↑44||Charles Colson, The Struggle For Men’s Hearts and Minds;Prison Fellowship, 1983; 16|
|↑45||Blaise Pascal, Pensees. http://members.aol.com/ KatharenaE/private/Philo/Pascal/pascal.html, accessed 14 January 1998|